Behind the ride-sharing app’s very first self-driving cars is a team working out of an advanced technologies center. And behind that office, 80,000 square feet in a 1990’s warehouse, are principals Denise Cherry and Elizabeth Guerrero. The project is also the first completed by their firm, founded after they departed Studio O+A, and they knew that the design would need to be special. As Cherry asks, “How often does your client ask you for a space that will help create the future?”
The pilot program’s autonomous cars—currently sent out with a safety driver—are tweaked in the double-height central workshop and displayed near the showroom’s amphitheater seating in bleached pine. Engineers have plenty of places to stash tools and create prototypes in the office areas, which are positioned alongside lounges in the wings. Despite the cutting-edge work happening here, Guerrero says, “We celebrated the industrial history of the Steel City.” That metal appears throughout, from a meeting area’s Cor-Ten steel panels, laser-cut with a city map, to a catwalk’s blackened-steel frame. Local trees, naturally felled, yielded the elm of tabletops.
Project Team: Justin Ackerman; Sarah Dziuba; Hilary Hanhan; Alma Lopez; David Hunter; Jeorge Jordan.