British Airways SFO Lounge, San Francisco
After the launch of British Airways (BA) newly designed lounge in San Francisco, Graven Director and lead on the project, Ross Hunter, spoke about the project itself and the design process involved.
We first worked on BA’s Lounge in San Francisco a few years ago, and there were a number of iterations before we all found the right balance of brand, budget and space.
One of the tricky things about designing for airport lounges is their pattern of use. If a Boeing 747 is flying the route then typically 110 Club and First-class passengers will be eligible to use the lounge, plus certain other Executive Club members. Sometimes passengers from other airlines that have arranged reciprocal or commercial agreements also have access.
So, a lounge that is quiet or empty for long periods can suddenly become very busy!
Then, if an A380 is introduced to a route, that’s potentially another hundred or so passengers who may wish to use the same amount of space.
Flexibility and optimisation is therefore vitally important, but those are two factors that are not normally associated with luxury, and an airport lounge has to be luxurious and special as well functional.
The range of customer needs is very wide; from regular solo business travellers to families and groups on holiday. Some people need to find space and time to work or meet, whilst others need to relax and enjoy a break.
British Airway’s “Futures” lounge concept is designed to offer customers that choice, as well as other stimulating experiences. The range of spaces available to work which include craft beer rooms, lively brasserie spaces, comfortable solitary seating and office areas tailored to functional working.
The accommodation of flexible densities without compromising BA’s service offer and brand is always our objective. It can be tough because there are particular technical constraints in the kinds of airside locations where lounges are sited.
Our initial work always includes a technical feasibility stage that establishes the “art of the possible” and this reduces the potential of abortive work. We always work with experienced local architects who can ensure code compliance and smooth processes with local airport authorities.
In the case of SFO, that firm was the excellent William Duff Architects, who were responsible for implementing Graven’s developed designs.
Interestingly, the design of airport Lounges is an area of specialism for Graven that overlaps and learns from two of our other specialisms; hotel design and workplace design. The convergence of work and leisure, and the un-tethering of people from offices means that traditional boundaries are broken and the ways that people use space have to be re-imagined and re-defined. And as if that’s not fascinating enough, we have to overlay brand, culture and commercial reality…and make it beautiful at the same time.
Scope of Services
San Francisco, USA