Projects

Vara

O+A’s first task on the Vara project was to find a name for the residential development then known only by its address: 1880 Mission. O+A had often helped start-up companies work their brand into the fabric of an office environment, but this was one of the firm’s first experiences working with a property developer to create a brand from scratch.

O+A’s first task on the Vara project was to find a name for the residential development then known only by its address: 1880 Mission. O+A had often helped start-up companies work their brand into the fabric of an office environment, but this was one of the firm’s first experiences working with a property developer to create a brand from scratch.

  • City San Francisco, CA

  • Year 2012

  • Size 8,536 sq ft

  • Team Primo Orpilla, Denise Cherry, Perry Stephney, Clem Soga, Jeorge Jordan, Will Chu, Alma Lopez, Caren Currie, Olivia Ward, Justin Ackerman, Al McKee

  • Photographer Jasper Sanidad

Location as Brand

O+A’s team and the building’s management found inspiration in the site’s location. Formally the address of Louis Roesch Printing, a company that produced fruit box labels for local produce suppliers, the space had deep connections with the Hispanic culture of its Mission neighbors and the history of California agriculture.

Looking Forward from a Colorful Past

For the common areas of 1880 Mission—a lobby, a gym, a bar, an outdoor plaza, a tech room— O+A envisioned clean, airy spaces with rustic accents. Interior graphics were inspired by the iconic art of the box labels. The results were modern, but with a hint of the blue collar values that brought prosperity to this region.

And Vara?

When California was under Spanish rule land was measured in varas—a unit roughly equivalent to 33 inches. Though the word and measurement are no longer in common use, the term reverberates with echoes of California’s origins and the agricultural heritage that is key to this site’s identity and therefore to its brand.

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