Square, Inc. Headquarters

Architect: Bohlin  Cywinski Jackson

Owner: Square,  Inc.

Location: San Francisco

The San Francisco headquarters for Square, Inc., a leading e-commerce and credit card processing company, reflects the company’s ethos and penchant for the sleek and minimal. By transforming a soulless bank data center, the design team created a world-class workspace that evokes timeless modern design.

Strengthened by a shared design spirit, the team’s objectives were to foster the open and transparent culture that can be traced back to Square’s startup roots, complement its brand through careful architectural detail, and provide a venue for the company’s continued growth. Clean lines and predominantly white interior spaces reflect Square’s identity, while locally salvaged woods provide a touch of visual interest in common spaces.

"The company’s ethos is reflected in every detail of their software and hardware products, with a crisp, minimalist design that is both intuitive and elegant." ~ Jury statement

Constructed in two phases, the project encompasses nearly 300,000 square feet divided equally across four floors not originally intended for office use. While the vast floor plates allow many employees to work in proximity, the team faced a significant challenge in organizing the space in a comprehensible way. The solution was to turn to urban precedents found in cities ranging from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Savannah, Georgia, and to organize clear circulation routes around visual landmarks. Selective use of color — international orange and specific blue — key the landmarks while evoking the palette of San Francisco Bay.

Serving as an organizational spine for the office floors, a central boulevard is lined with communal spaces and dotted with civic landmarks, such as a library and gallery. As primary hub for collaboration and social interaction, the boulevard also offers lunch options operated by merchants using Square’s technology and creating an in-house testing site for the company’s innovations.

Anchoring the central boulevard, a monumental amphitheater stair unites the office floors and provides space for organizational activities. Custom tables support those activities which vary in focus from individuals to large presentations and provide a sculptural counterpoint to the stair’s grand gesture. By connecting all four floors, the stair generates chance encounters and a vitality that echoes the urban marketplace Square serves.

"Simple, direct, and quite beautiful – such a pleasant surprise to find this inside an existing building and good for them for having the vision!" ~ Jury statement

Additional information

Acoustical Consultant: Charles M. Salter & Associates

AV Consultant: RLS; Thresher

Engineer – MEP: CB Engineers

Engineer – Structural: Tipping Structural Engineers

General Contractor: BCCI

IT Consultant: Walker Telecomm, Inc.

Lighting Consultant: Niteo; Bank Ramos

Project Manager (third party): Project Focus

Security Consultant: Convergint Technologies


Brian Caldwell, AIA (Chair), THINKTANK Design Group, Bozeman, Montana

Joshua Aidlin, AIA, Aidlin Darling Design San Francisco

Kiyomi Kurooka, AIA, DWL Architects + Planners Inc., Phoenix

John Paquin, AIA, Statesville, North Carolina

William T. Ruhl, AIA, RUHL WALKER Architects, Boston

Image credits

Square-Inc. HQ

Matthew Millman

Square, Inc.

Matthew Millman

Square, Inc. HQ

Matthew Millman

Square, Inc. HQ

Matthew Millman

Square, Inc. HQ

Matthew Millman