wework: A Collaborative Community


Starting with just one location in 2010, WeWork, a membership-based office sharing company recently named one of the most innovative companies of 2015,has grown rapidly over the past five years, with offices now in 11 major U.S. cities and three other countries, and its founders want to keep expanding.  Part of this plan includes opening up more space in the San Francisco Bay Area, so WeWork turned to MKThink for help with strategy and implementation for a new space on Mission Street.



To meet the unique needs of WeWork’s community-focused office system, MKThink worked as Architect of Record to help streamline code and permit issues, document design decisions, and generate pricing and permit sets for WeWork.  MKThink also handled the construction administration of the project, checking materials for code compliance, answering questions from the contractor at the worksite, and coordinating documents.



MKThink helped WeWork permit and build seven floors—amounting to 90,000 square feet—of community and office space in 535 Mission Street, a newly completed, U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver-certified tower in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.  Working together with WeWork, MKThink was able to complete the process in under six months, and the space is expected to come online in the second to third quarter of 2015.  MKThink’s work on 535 Mission Street did more than just help WeWork build an office—it built a community.

Enhanced Engagement for Better Design {at the AIA}


Evelyn Lee, Katie Peksa and Liz Lessig represented MKThink at the 2015 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention in Atlanta, GA.  The trio led a hands-on workshop on “Enhanced Engagement for Better Design” to a full house of 80+ colleagues. The session included an introduction and discussion around Experience Mapping, Empathy Mapping, and marketing’s 7 P’sPurpose, People, Product, Process, Preparation, Practical and Pitfalls –powerful tools for content creation, programming and design. Take away – Design should begin with engagement; there are new tools to quantify engagement; greater stakeholder input is essential for great design.

It’s Happening: 826 Valencia is opening in the Tenderloin

It’s Happening: a brand new 826 Valencia, the children’s writing center, with their signature Pirate Supply Store entrance, will soon have another location – this time, in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. It will be the largest of the 826 Valencia locations with 5,200 square feet of space, on the corner of Leavenworth Street and Golden Gate Avenue. The opening comes as Mayor Ed Lee pushes to expand the mid-Market Street success into the Tenderloin. “Changing the way the street is impacted is part of a larger neighborhood vision,” according to Steve Kelley, Principal at MKThink, “and restoring the façade and interior of 180 Golden Gate promotes positive engagement with the community.”

The inspiration and goal behind 826 is to reduce the city’s “academic achievement gap for under-served youth”, a mission MKThink is a proud join.  MKThink provides pro-bono architectural services in a partnership dedicated to creatively engage children in a built environment designed to nourish and encourage learning.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle Article Here


AIA Convention 2015: Enhanced Engagement for Better Design

Katie Peksa, Liz Lessig and Evelyn Lee

Enhanced Engagement for Better Design

Exceptional design begins with engagement. Whether you’re working for one individual or an entire community, it’s critical to distinguish needs from wants, understand vision and motivation, and establish a clear line of communication.

How do you make sure you are properly distinguishing their needs from their wants? How do you ensure everyone has a voice and is able to express their opinions about a project? How do you get stakeholders to engage in design thinking?

During the 2015 AIA Convention in Atlanta, GA, Evelyn Lee, Katie Peksa and Liz Lessig of MKThink will go beyond the basics to deliver useful qualitative and quantitative information that promotes better design outcomes.

We will go beyond the standard hands-on post-it notes and social media tools for engaging your client partners and making sure you get all the qualitative information (as well as some quantitative) that is useful to ensure better design outcomes.

The session will start with a quick overview of the online technology tools available for large group stakeholder engagement and give participants the opportunity out some of the platforms “live” during the session. Participants will then breakout into groups to explore three different small group stakeholder engagement tools that are focused on creating better design oriented results: the 7Ps Framework, Empathy Mapping, and Experience Mapping.

Enhanced Engagement for Better Design provides a list of tools, as well as hands-on exercises, that participants will immediately be able to utilize on their client partners and stakeholder groups for their existing and future design projects.

Upon completion, participants will be able to list and understand a number of different technology tools that ensure better facilitation with large stakeholder groups.


See you at the AIA Convention!

MKThink & The Market Street Prototyping Festival

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Over the past six months, MKThink and RoundhouseOne have been collaborating with the San Francisco City Planning Department to monitor and evaluate one block of Market Street during the San Francisco Market Street Prototyping Festival. The team designed, tested, and installed a network of sensors to detect the change in the volume of people on Market Street due to the festival. In order to create a robust network, the team coordinated with city officials, members of the local business district, retailers, and utility providers to optimize sensor placement locations. Once installed, the sensors detected mobile devices that have the wireless signal activated. Devices were used as a proxy for people, meaning each device is an indication of one person on the street. Using this data, the team will be able to calculate the number of people on the sidewalk at any given time, the dwell time of each individual device (i.e. the duration of stay), and the path of travel for most devices. In addition to collecting this information during the days of the festival, the sensors will collect data for two weeks following the event so that the team will have baseline or “regular day” data to compare against. This analysis will allow MKThink, the San Francisco, Planning Department, and the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District to understand the level to which the festival increased foot traffic on Market Street.