A Tour Bus Visitor Center

Overview ---- Existing Conditions ---- Design Concept ---- Completed Project

The Project

Open Top Sightseeing asked us to remodel an 850 sq. ft. storefront in the heart of the Wharf District in San Francisco.  The corner location was perfect for them because they already had permits for their buses to stop along this space.  There were only a few problems: a short timeframe, a limited budget and what later revealed itself as a space full of surprises.

The space was to be transformed into a visitor center where riders could purchase tickets, get information about the tours and wait for buses.  In addition, the space needed a managers office and a storage/server room.


The existing store had years of remodels and repairs pilled up in layers that didn't reveal themselves until demolition was started.  The mechanical system consisted of only ceiling registers; i.e., there was no mechanical system.

The ceiling had an old t-bar layout with different tiles, mixed lighting fixtures and a large coffer in the middle of the space.


Originally the client wanted to keep as much of the existing space as possible but as demolition began, the contractor informed us about one problem after another an we all eventually agreed to gut the space.
Because the primary focus and function of this visitor center was to be the counter, we looked for inspiration in the main thing this company produced: bus rides.  The bus, itself, became the inspiration for the ticket counter.
Illustrated to the right is the finished floor plan.  The two exposed columns were wrapped by triangular shapes to provide surfaces for signage.
Illustrated to the right is one of numerous rendered images we produced for our own studies and for client approval.  As with most fast paced projects, the design changed as the project progressed.
Looking towards the office.  Bus arriving to the right.
Looking towards the primary entry.  ADA counter in foreground and three ticket stations in the back.
Looking at the "window frame" behind the counter derived from some of the curves on the buses.
Looking towards the primary entry following the curvature of the closet wall.
Looking at the ADA counter and first teller station from the back side.  I left my phone on the counter; can you believe it.
Looking at the third teller station and counter top as it curves up to form the "window frame".

Project team:

David Herrera
Odin Cary

General Contractor:
Joshmari Builders

Structural Engineer:
Andy Forrest




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