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Truebeck Leverages Construction Expertise Across Bay Area Interior Build-Outs

The Tribune Tower lobby in Oakland

Oakland’s 22-story Tribune Tower, completed in 1924, was the tallest structure in the city during the 1920s. Several decades — and a few earthquakes — later, the St. Mark's Campanile-inspired structure still stands, a symbol of Oakland’s history. When it came time for a seismic retrofit, architect ASD/SKY and building owner Harvest Properties looked to develop a plan that would not compromise the building’s architectural integrity.

As the Bay Area’s centuries-old warehouses become startup havens and aging Victorian homes transform into prime multifamily product, real estate professionals have had to strike a balance between historic preservation and modern upgrades. Strict guidelines from preservationists can often clash with desired amenities or improvements. 

To accomplish the seismic retrofit at the Tribune Tower, ASD/SKY and Harvest Properties needed a partner in the process, one with sensitivity toward the nuances of historic preservation. They turned to Truebeck Construction. 

Truebeck Construction has gained a reputation in the Bay Area as a leader in ground-up construction and high-quality interiors across multiple asset classes. Truebeck brings a high level of service and attention to detail to interior projects. From office tenant improvements and lobby upgrades to life sciences labs and medical renovations, the contractor leverages a team of experienced engineers and estimators, as well as technology to deliver projects. 

“It is a constant challenge, in the best way,” Truebeck Construction project executive Travis Schultz said. “Interior projects require high-level planning, almost on an hourly basis.”

Pier 70 warehouse conversion for JUUL Labs’ new HQ in San Francisco

At the Tribune Tower, Truebeck’s close partnership with ASD/SKY and Harvest Properties allowed it to rework plans to blend the seismic improvements with the existing structure. While the original design opted for cross-bracing, which would pass through the tower’s windows, the new plan used a concrete solution that maintained the historic look. With a nod to current office demands, upgrades also included elevator modernization and system upgrades throughout. 

The newly renovated lobby will welcome tenants with on-site amenities like a coffee shop, a full-service bar and a restaurant, catering to live-work-play trends. 

“My favorite process is the design-build process because it allows us to get in and be hands-on with the project,” Schultz said. “We are builders. So for us, when we can do the design-build aspect of the project, that is when we are at our best.”

Technology plays a significant role in ensuring modern upgrades do not conflict with preservation goals. Rather than rely on existing blueprints that may be outdated or inaccurate, Truebeck laser scans the building to get the exact location of every lighting fixture, pipe and electrical conduit. Knowing where these items are allows the construction team to spot concerns early in the process, saving time and money. 

“It also helps us from a scheduling standpoint,” Schultz said. “When we know where every pipe and duct is, we are not running into too many surprises. It allows us to pre-plan and keep the project moving forward.”

In the Dogpatch area of San Francisco, historic preservation and new construction will converge in a $150M mixed-use development initiative at Pier 70. Truebeck is working on a warehouse conversion for JUUL Labs at the Pier 70 site. A center for shipbuilding and repair for more than 150 years, the waterfront site will feature affordable housing, offices, parks, light manufacturing and artist studios. As dictated by the preservation guidelines, new buildings can be no taller than the complex’s tallest historic point. 

Leveraging its track record of partnership, attention to detail and strong client service, the team is up for the challenge, Schultz said. 

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