Earlier this year, coffee production / barista brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison opened their second branch of Sightglass Coffee on 20th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. Their first store of the same name opened in 2010 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. Sightglass on 20th Street is delightfully finished with reclaimed wood, natural plaster walls, and ceramic tiles, creating a cozy neighborhood ambience that contrasts with the industrial feel of the flagship store. We recently took a tour of the new store with owner Justin Morrison and Boor Bridges Architecture during the AIASF annual Architecture and the City Festival - read on for a closer look..
Sightglass‘ new coffeehouse set the tone for the exciting experiential architecture theme we saw throughout this year’s AIASF annual Architecture and the City Festival. Architects Seth Boor and Anand Sheth of Boor Bridges Architecture worked closely with the Morrison brothers to rehab the final piece of a burgeoning neighborhood block made up of a number of architectural gems, including Southern Exposure, Trick Dog, Central Kitchen, and Salumeria, all designed for the long haul with multi-decade leases and high quality craft.
Pairing coffee and delicious scones with custom-designed wall sconces and Art Deco detailing, this bean roaster offers one-of-a-kind tastings of personally chosen java varietals from the Morrison brothers’ crop scouting trips around the world.
Coffee culture is nothing new to the US, but if the Starbucks phenomenon marks the first wave, and wifi cafes the second, then the carefully curated, custom designed onsite production shops intentionally lacking wifi may just be the third wave in this subset of everyday life centered on the perfect cup o’ joe experience.
Architect Seth Boor talks a lot about creating privately owned ‘mini community centers’ in a culture lacking public gathering spaces often found in European cities. Sightglass on 20th Street marks Boor Bridges’ sixth coffee establishment in San Francisco, following The Mill, Four Barrel Coffee, and Sightglass’ first location in SOMA. Each of these social scenes was designed specific to their hyper-local neighborhood context, along the Divisadero, Valencia, and Folsom corridors, respectively.
Sightglass owner Justin Morrison believes the Mission District block used to hold a US Post Office, due to the remaining metal eagle mascots crowning the building, and then a sausage factory before its current, continuous light industrial use as a coffee production barista bar.
The double-height space affords light from a tall wall of original leaded glass windows, peppered with plantings by Crooked Nest. Integral colored plaster walls provide a soft, muted, and warm texture leading up to a ceiling of reclaimed redwood sap wood previously used for chicken coop flooring in the North Bay, remilled (and therefore cleaned, wink) by SmithBuilt builders, also the general contractor.
The pastry case was fabricated by Luigi Oldani, and the teak and honed brass wall shelving was fabricated by Lucas Ford (wood) and Tommy Hicks (metal). The floor tile is simple ceramic Dal-Tile arranged in a fun pattern, perhaps as homage to a design era resurrected.
Perhaps the most impressive design feature in the place, besides the Probat roaster of course, is the glass, brass, and steel front door, designed in collaboration between the architects and legendary Burning Man metal fabricator, Steve Valdez. Owner Justin Morrison noted that a Parklet fronting the café will be the final installment, rounding out the indoor / outdoor social hotspot. Stay tuned for that in future Parklet coverage!
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat