In a space that used to be a gravel, 1 De Haro designed by architecture Perks&Will is the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) building in San Francisco and the first multistory, fully mass timber building in California. And if you don’t already know why that matters, you will soon.

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Doorway with square design

The building was created with stacked wood on a concrete base, a standard enough technique that is used all over the country. But this building is different because of the mass timber. It’s a combination of glue-laminated and cross-laminated timber. The material is sustainable and much lighter in weight than more standard construction methods that use heavier timbers, steel and concrete. Additionally, 1 De Haro building is more flexible than more standard designs, but remains strong. Steel bars were used to reinforce the timbers to add more strength to the design.

Related: Revolutionary floors made from waste wood pulp generate clean energy

Outside shot of triangle-shaped architecture

The building is shaped to match the lot where it was built, which is why it has that unique triangle shape. The building’s design was inspired by a jewelry box. The wood used to create the building is wrapped in glass that lights up at night.

Interior with floor-to-ceiling wooden walls

Inside, the lobby greets visitors with a huge wooden wall that’s illuminated with floor-to-ceiling windows. There are custom, movable sunshades that can be used to keep the building cool. A large central staircase keeps all four floors connected to each other. The first floor is supportive concrete, while the upper floors are made with a CLT slab and glulam post and beam construction. The floor slabs were topped with concrete to reduce noise transfer from floor to floor.

Outside garden

Despite all its unique features and incredible modern design, the building blends beautifully into the surrounding environment. It looks very much at home here on the San Francisco streets — proof that even an odd or unusually-shaped lot can be the start of an incredible design.

+ Perkins&Will

Photography by David Wakely