Lend a Hand
It pays to know your neighbor. Although you may not be paid in cash.
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 3/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
It pays to know your neighbor. Although you may not be paid in cash. Take a San Francisco project spearheaded by Studios Architecture associate Andrew Clemenza. One day on the roof deck of his apartment building, he was chatting with Megan Berwick, who happened to work at Kiva, a nonprofit that alleviates global poverty by connecting lenders to those in need of money, and Berwick mentioned that Kiva was looking to move to a larger office. So Clemenza pitched the project to Studios, which donates 1 percent of staffers' time through an organization called Public Architecture.
After getting the green light from superiors, Clemenza and fellow associate Kristin Lacy helped locate office space in a fairly average industrial conversion. Discussions with Kiva staff resulted in an open plan for the 17,000 square feet, centering on a lounge flexible enough to accommodate meetings, happy hours, and Ping-Pong tournaments. "Infusing Kiva's upbeat spirit into the design was key," Lacy says. She and Clemenza proceeded to secure furnishings at steep discounts from such manufacturers as Turnstone (sofas and ottomans), Fatboy (a hammock), and Tandus Flooring (carpet tile). Reclaimed wooden doors became sliding tackboards, chalkboards, or whiteboards when covered in felt or special paint and mounted on a track. Partitions incorporate recycled elements as well.
Clemenza and Lacy contributed hundreds of hours of free time over the course of eight months. "There's little more gratifying than helping someone who helps so many," Clemenza says. When it comes to karma, that's money in the bank.
Photography by Sharon Risedorpi.