Translation from Concept to Construction

The enclosure of Uber’s Mission Bay HQ



Photo of Ryan Donaghy, AIA

Ryan Donaghy, AIA

Senior Associate, Enclosure Design

SHoP Architects

Photo of Matthew Spahr, PE

Matthew Spahr, PE

Associate / Facade Engineer




Fidelity between the built enclosure and early visualizations is rarely, if ever, an accident. When achieved, it comes as the result of persistent effort by the Architect and team to expand the “problem-set” of technical design to include conservation and advancement of the original architectural concept. This paper and presentation will document several key moments within the five-year design and construction process for the Uber Headquarters in Mission Bay when this workflow—in the context of a design assist approach—generated significant technical innovation, including:

  • Development of a complex, occupiable, double-layer enclosure strategy;
  • Glass material selection to maximize transparency within the requirement of the CEC (Title 24);
  • Process for monumental, outward projecting, bi-fold, motorized vents;
  • Design process for the multi-floor facade support system to preserve views.


In 2014, SHoP Architects were selected to design a new corporate headquarters for Uber in San Francisco, and with this, reconsider the form of a tech company campus in an

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Operable Bi-fold Vents

In order to seamlessly blend into the adjacent fixed façade when closed, the operable vent units were designed to match the size and shape of the typical curtain wall units

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Glass Material Selection

Modern architecture has used tempered glass in applications since before the advent of the float glass manufacturing process in the 1950’s. Great strides in glass production technology evolved to produce

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Long Span Facade at Commons' Enclosure

In order to achieve the circulation concept and visual intent of the enclosure, the structural scheme for the Commons’ facade was developed in a way to satisfy a set of

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For this project, the technical execution of all facade design concepts were closely interdependent to one another. It was the concept of a naturally ventilated vertical circulation path which allowed

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The authors thank the ownership team, Uber and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the project teams at Truebeck Construction, Josef Gartner GmbH / Permasteelisa Group, AGC Interpane, Atelier Ten, Thornton Tomasetti, Quezada Architecture, and colleagues at SHoP Architects and Heintges.

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David J. Wishersheimer. “The Vierendeel.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 54-60.

Patterson, Mic. Structural Glass Facades and Enclosures. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.