Dakin Building
The Dakin Building is an architectural award-winning class A office building on the San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

 in Brisbane, California
Brisbane, California
Brisbane is a small city located in the northern part of San Mateo County, California on the lower slopes of San Bruno Mountain. It is on the northeastern edge of South San Francisco, next to the San Francisco Bay and near the San Francisco International Airport.The population was 4,282 as of...

. Serving as a corporate headquarters building for several companies of national prominence, it was built from the profits of the Garfield
Garfield is a comic strip created by Jim Davis. Published since June 19, 1978, it chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield ; his owner, Jon Arbuckle; and Arbuckle's dog, Odie...

 character whose licensed products of the R. Dakin Company soared in sales in the late 1980s. Located on Sierra Point
Sierra Point, Brisbane, California
Sierra Point is a small peninsula that extends outward into the San Francisco Bay, located in Brisbane, San Mateo County, California . It is at approximately . There are several class A office buildings at Sierra Point including the Dakin Building and the Hitachi Building...

, it became a landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

 for its distinctive design and was nicknamed the Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the original film trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, where he is portrayed by Mark Hamill. He is introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in which he is forced to leave home, and finds himself apprenticed to the Jedi master...

 building for its dramatic posture overlooking the bay, in contrast to its ominous looking neighbor office building that was nicknamed the Darth Vader
Darth Vader
Darth Vader is a central character in the Star Wars saga, appearing as one of the main antagonists in the original trilogy and as the main protagonist in the prequel trilogy....



The Dakin building has won a number of architectural awards including an American Institute of Architects
American Institute of Architects
The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

 Design Excellence Award in 1992. According to the San Francisco Examiner the jury awarded this distinction to the Dakin building because "Its chief strength is the atrium
Atrium (architecture)
In modern architecture, an atrium is a large open space, often several stories high and having a glazed roof and/or large windows, often situated within a larger multistory building and often located immediately beyond the main entrance doors...

, with its views of the San Francisco Bay and asymmetrical skylight". The same newspaper article noted that the building "houses executive offices, research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 facilities and product showroom
The word showroom has two distinct meanings including:-Marketing location:A showroom is a large space used to display products for sale, such as automobiles, furniture, appliances, carpet or apparel. The World's most famous locations for a showroom are the Champs Elysees in Paris or the 5th Avenue...

s". Further in the same newspaper article, it is noted that the Dakin building was built over thick bay mud
Bay mud
Bay mud consists of thick deposits of soft, unconsolidated silty clay, which is saturated with water; these soil layers are situated at the bottom of certain estuaries, which are normally in temperate regions that have experienced cyclical glacial cycles...

 formations that are expected to subside up to ten feet by the year 2006; therefore, the main entrance ramp was built on a giant hinge to allow the earth to settle, while the building, resting on driven piles, remains stationary. The year 2006 has arrived, and indeed the flexibility in the ramp allowed the building to effectively "rise" above the land around it. However, the subsidence undermined the safety of the ramps causing structural damage to the concrete and opening up small crevice-like cracks in its connective fabric. Their angle eventually violated city regulations for disabled-person access and in October, 2006 the ramps were replaced with a composite design of stairs, disabled-access lift, and switchback ramps.

In international design competition the Dakin building was awarded semi-finalist standing in the 1990 Quaternario Award, an international award for innovative technology in architecture. The American Institute of Architects 1990 article states that one of the bases for the international recognition is: “The two north facing atrium walls are faced entirely in glass... Due to the expanse of glass, the projecting atrium gives the impression of a greenhouse, creating the effect of extending the interior to an adjacent park and to the bay beyond”.

The Quaternario judges focused on the technological aspects of the fenestration design where window angles were calculated to minimize interior glare and reduce interior over-illumination
Over-illumination is the presence of lighting intensity beyond that required for a specified activity. Over-illumination was commonly ignored between 1950 and 1995, especially in office and retail environments; only since then has the interior design community begun to reconsider this practice.The...

, while at the same time reducing solar heat loading and subsequent demand for air conditioning as energy conservation techniques. The angled window projections effectively provide permanent sunscreens, obviating any need for interior blinds or shades.

Ownership and history

The Dakin Building was constructed in 1986 under commission of the R. Dakin Company, one of the largest manufacturers of plush
Plush is a textile having a cut nap or pile the same as fustian or velvet.Originally the pile of plush consisted of mohair or worsted yarn, but now silk by itself or with a cotton backing is used for plush, the distinction from velvet being found in the longer and less dense pile of plush...

 products (mainly teddy bears) in the United States at that time. Dakin was in a large upswing of sales and profits in the late 1980s fueled by success of its Garfield character licenses, and needed to accommodate its burgeoning staff of artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

s and designer
A designer is a person who designs. More formally, a designer is an agent that "specifies the structural properties of a design object". In practice, anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects, such as consumer products, processes, laws, games and graphics, is referred to as a...

s. Not long after completion of the building, several of the company founding key executives were killed in a light aircraft accident.

In a financial and sales tailspin, the R. Dakin Company proceeded to sell this headquarters
Headquarters denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top of a corporation taking full responsibility managing all business activities...

 building to C. Michael Hogan, president of Earth Metrics Inc., an environmental research and consulting firm. Earth Metrics then moved into two floors of the building, as Dakin compressed its operations. At Dakin's request, The Good Guys!
The Good Guys!
Good Guys was a chain of consumer electronics retail stores with 71 stores in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The company was headquartered in Brisbane, California in the Dakin Building in the early-1990s and subsequently in Alameda, California until it was bought in late 2003 by...

 were secured as a major tenant in 1992, and the new owner performed substantial tenant improvements of approximately $1,300,000, upgrading the computer room infrastructure and building an auditorium.

The Foster Company purchased the entire holding in 1995. The Foster Company is the successor entity of T. Jack Foster, a wealthy real estate magnate, for whom Foster City, California
Foster City, California
Foster City is an affluent planned city located in San Mateo County, California, 94404. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 30,567. Forbes ranked Foster City #10 on their 2009 list of America's Top 25 Towns to Live Well. Money has also recognized Foster City multiple times as...

 is named, since Foster owned and developed most of that San Francisco Peninsula
San Francisco Peninsula
The San Francisco Peninsula is a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area that separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. On its northern tip is the City and County of San Francisco. Its southern base is in Santa Clara County, including the cities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain...

 city of population around 30,000.

The current tenant is Walmart.com, the Web site division of Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...


Siting and physical design

The building is situated on a San Francisco Bay shoreline frontage parcel with almost one quarter of a mile of bay frontage. The 8 acres (32,374.9 m²) parcel at Sierra Point has a commanding view of the central portion of the San Francisco Bay, the city of San Francisco, San Bruno Mountain
San Bruno Mountain
San Bruno Mountain in northern San Mateo County, California is the northernmost part of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Most of the mountain lies within the San Bruno Mountain State Park, a unique open-space island in the midst of the San Francisco Peninsula's urbanization. Next to the state park is the...

  and Candlestick Park. The Dakin Building is in proximity to the Sierra Point Marina and lies about four miles (6 km) north of San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is a major international airport located south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, near the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. It is often referred to as SFO...


The underlying site was constructed from bay fill activities from 1965 to 1985, mostly consisting of construction debris from San Francisco. Aerial photographs prior to 1965 show this area to be tidelands of the San Francisco Bay. A clay cap was constructed over the debris prior to building approval.

The building was designed by the well known architectural firm Munselle Brown Partnership Inc. of San Francisco who were selected after winning an invited design competition, and Architects of Record, DES Architects + Engineers, Inc. as a Class A office building.[4] . Peter Munselle of the Munselle Brown Partnership prepared the winning architectural design concept. Theodore Brown served as Partner in Charge for Munselle/Brown and Bob Giannini was the principal architect for DES. The building was completed in 1986, commissioned by the Dakin Company, being constructed by the Koll company. It is entirely steel frame in construction supported by driven piles up to 140 feet (43 m) in depth into the bay mud. A dedicated trail for hikers is established to conform to the San Francisco Bay perimeter master trail plan; large boulders and rip-rap are placed below the trail to prevent wave action erosion. The landscape architect for the original design was Royston, Hanamoto, Alley and Abey of San Francisco.

The building itself is a five story design plus a penthouse
Penthouse apartment
A penthouse apartment or penthouse is an apartment that is on one of the highest floors of an apartment building. Penthouses are typically differentiated from other apartments by luxury features.-History:...

, plus one subterranean parking level. The exterior features a skin that is an innovative all porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 panel design, giving the appearance of shimmering in the sunlight or uplights by night; moreover most of the fenestration is slanted approximately 45 degrees from vertical, designed to reduce glare and enhance energy conservation, but also lending a futuristic effect. The gross floor area is approximately 119000 square feet (11,055.5 m²) plus 21000 square feet (1,951 m²) of underground parking
Parking is the act of stopping a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied for more than a brief time. Parking on one or both sides of a road is commonly permitted, though often with restrictions...

 and shipping /receiving rooms. Surface parking is provided for 266 vehicle
A vehicle is a device that is designed or used to transport people or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats, and aircraft....


Due to its proximity to landfill, the Dakin relies on specially engineered recovery systems below its basements to actively capture fugitive methane off-gas and vent it away from the building.

The interior design features a soaring five-story entrance atrium capped by a massive skylight dome with a 40 feet (12.2 m) laminated glass glazing panel, whose atrium
Atrium (architecture)
In modern architecture, an atrium is a large open space, often several stories high and having a glazed roof and/or large windows, often situated within a larger multistory building and often located immediately beyond the main entrance doors...

 footprint is almost 10000 square feet (929 m²). Other major interior elements are a state of the art auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

 and a large computer room capable of supporting a national corporation data center, both built by C. Michael Hogan, the second owner.

At the Christmas season the building was historically topped with several illuminated stars approximately 70 square feet (7 m²) each in area, emulating a Brisbane annual tradition of lighted stars on buildings.

Role during Glasnost

During the Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 period, the Dakin building was a primary location central to development of relationships between Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 (then Soviet citizens) and Americans. Philanthropist Henry Dakin, chairman of the Dakin Company, was the catalyst in bringing numerous parties together from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle: "During the late 1980s, as glasnost and perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

 led to the liquidation of the Soviet empire, the Dakin building was the location for a series of groups facilitating United States-Russian contacts. They included the Center for U.S.-U.S.S.R. Initiatives, which helped more than 1000 Americans visit the Soviet Union and more than 400 then-Soviet citizens visit the U.S."

The R. Dakin art collection

In the late 1980s the R. Dakin Company assembled a large collection of contemporary art from artists worldwide. The media included watercolor, oil painting
Oil painting
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil—especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body...

, serigraph, lithograph, etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

, collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

, ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

 plate, sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 and mixed media
Mixed media
Mixed media, in visual art, refers to an artwork in the making of which more than one medium has been employed.There is an important distinction between "mixed-media" artworks and "multimedia art". Mixed media tends to refer to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct...

. These pieces were used to grace the interior of the Dakin Building, and were hung in literally all public areas, conference rooms, hallways and the atrium. The collection featured some well known artists and some rising artists, who were not well established at that time. Some of the artists featured are Jeff Glenn, tapistry artist; Barbe; Marachal; Heiliger; Marlatt; Frings; Dudley and Garber. When C. Michael Hogan purchased the building in 1990, he hung some of his art collection to add to the museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 character of the building, including a well known suite of Roberto Matta
Roberto Matta
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren , better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art....

. When Dakin left the building, Hogan purchased the bulk of the Dakin art collection.

The front exterior entrance to the Dakin building originally featured a large stone sculpture of a teddy bear
Teddy bear
The teddy bear is a stuffed toy bear. They are usually stuffed with soft, white cotton and have smooth and soft fur. It is an enduring form of a stuffed animal in many countries, often serving the purpose of entertaining children. In recent times, some teddy bears have become collector's items...

, hewn from natural stone. This bear became the hallmark of the high-tech building embodying the playful spirit of the R.Dakin designers and the avant-gard character of the building. The bear is designed in the manner of Benny Bufano
Benny Bufano
Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano was a California-based Italian American sculptor, best known for his large-scale monuments, usually of granite. His modernist work often featured smoothly rounded animals and relatively simple shapes.-Biography:Bufano was born in San Fele, Italy. He moved with his...

 by sculptor Judith Lord. When Hogan sold the Dakin Building in 1995, he retained ownership rights to the bear.

The Star Wars saga

The Dakin building has been widely labelled the 'Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the original film trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, where he is portrayed by Mark Hamill. He is introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in which he is forced to leave home, and finds himself apprenticed to the Jedi master...

' building, due to its bold appearance of bright white porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 panels and futuristic design, seeming to embody the concept of good. To complete the metaphor the nearby, ominous looking, high-tech building is dubbed the 'Darth Vader
Darth Vader
Darth Vader is a central character in the Star Wars saga, appearing as one of the main antagonists in the original trilogy and as the main protagonist in the prequel trilogy....

' building, replete with its full reflective exterior of black smoke glass, emulating the impenetrable visage of the evil counterpart.

The April 17, 1986, San Francisco Chronicle article cited above notes: "Aesthetically [the Darth Vader building] is no match for Luke Skywalker's happy white palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

just a few hundred feet away, which has been an instant popular success. The newly completed building is headquarters for the R. Dakin cuddly toy company."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle article, "The differences between the two buildings go far beyond ... architectural good versus evil. They show the choice between prepackaged architecture, in which individuals or even businesses are regarded as interchangeable, and a custom built home for a family controlled company that has been in the Bay Area for years."

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