Sand Studios and Residence

DATE: 2009
LOCATION: San Francisco, California, USA
OLD USE: Warehouse
NEW USE: Office, residence, gallery


Built in 1943 as part of the redevelopment of South Park into a light industrial area, the warehouse was utilized for a number of decades.[1] South Park had originally been created 1852 as an exclusive residential district in San Francisco. The area began to “decline” after the construction of Second Street opened the area to a wider demographic. This resulted in the wealthy residents moving to Nob Hill in the late 19th century. Much of the neighborhood was destroyed during the earthquake of 1906. This vacant land then found a new purpose as a light industrial district.[2]


Larissa and Jeff Sand purchased the warehouse in 2003 to relocate their family and business Sand Studios. Larissa is a designer who studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, while her husband, Jeff, is an industrial designer.[3] Their firm, Sand Studios, combines minimalist design with material expression, refined details and atmospheric lighting.


The warehouse was saved from demolition when a development company planning to replace the building with new condominiums had lost its financing. Larissa saw the opportunity to reuse the structure and provide a new home for her family and business after a fire forced them out of their previous location. The 8,500-square-foot masonry-and-timber post-and-beam structure is located on a 3,730-square-foot corner lot just one block from the neighborhood’s oval park. The three story structure was divided into the family’s residence on the top floor, the studio office on the second floor, and the studio’s machine shop on the ground floor. The ground floor also now includes a 2,500-square-feet gallery space that may be used to rent out for retail uses in the future.

Ample skylights and windows provide plenty of daylight and natural ventilation. Larissa focused on reusing as many of the original building materials in the renovation. Any elements that needed to be replaced were accomplished through natural and/or recycled materials. A central two-story atrium was added to bring light into the 7-foot-10-inch-high office and allows workers to observe the shop below.

“The Sand Studios restoration project is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that has survived natural and economic catastrophes and struggles to overcome myriad new real estate developments. With its side doors rolled open, the building emits the lively sounds of buzzing machines and friendly banter. Activity animates the place day and night. The Sands have not only revived a spot that might have become another generic condo, they’ve infused it with a spirit of innovation, rehabilitation, and reuse that embodies San Francisco’s history of enterprise and recovery.”[4]

[1]Architectural Record
[3]Architectural Record
[4]Architectural Record

Images courtesy of Kenneth Probst.