Ornate café-kiosk a part of San Francisco revitalization project
Schweiss Doors provides five bifold doors disguised as attractive cladding
FAIRFAX, Minn., June 6, 2019 – The San Francisco Civic Center is distinguished by its many beaux arts-style government buildings and performing arts venues. The area has undergone a noticeable revitalization, including the Bi-Rite Café, where food is being made available on the Civic Center Plaza for the first time.

The attractive cladding design on the 640 square foot sandwich and ice cream kiosk consists of laser-cut stainless-steel panels as part of designer bifold liftstrap doors from Schweiss Doors. The five doors, designed by WRNS Studio of San Francisco, open on all sides of the kiosk. When closed, they blend into the building design so passersby can’t really see there are doors there.

The Bi-Rite Café is adjacent to the San Francisco Civic Center, the mayor’s office and the Helen Diller Civic Center playgrounds near Market Street and Van Ness Avenue – many of the city’s largest government and cultural institutions. City Hall, a sprawling 1915 landmark with a gold-leafed dome, anchors a complex that includes the elegant War Memorial Opera House, the Asian Art Museum and a large plaza. Entertainment seekers choose from plays at historic theaters and concerts at sleek locations such as David Symphony Hall and the SFJazz Center.

“We worked with Zahner, based in Kansas City, who fabricated the panels using our custom perforation design, which was inspired by some of the other metal work at the Civic Center, mostly what you see on City Hall,” says Hattie Stroud, a WRNS Studio architect. “It’s a modern interpretation of these historic patterns.”

Zahner’s engraved and etched inventive use of metal processes provide a canvas of possibility for expression on plate and panel surfaces worldwide.

The doors remain open during business hours and then can be locked shut with an automatic latching system to protect contents when not in operation. The largest door measures 49 feet, 4 inches wide by 12 feet tall, while the four other liftstrap doors vary in size from 16 feet, 8 inches to 12 feet, 11 inches in width. They all feature weatherproof electrical and stainless steel windrails.

Bi-Rite Café is a fun, lively outdoor gathering space where anyone can relax with the historic and picturesque city hall as a backdrop. The menu offers breakfast and lunch all day and includes healthy and child-friendly options. They also have Bi-Rite Creamery soft serve ice cream made with Double 8 Dairy water buffalo milk and a full expresso bar and coffee program featuring Sightglass Coffee.

“I think the owners were happy with the doors,” Stroud says. “We are increasingly using big overhead doors because with the climate in our area, people really like to be able to open up a cafeteria or school space adjacent to an outdoor space. On this particular project, we used Schweiss because we felt the straps would be more reliable from a maintenance standpoint in the long run. We looked at two other door manufacturers, but liked these doors because they actually have fairly minimal equipment on the siderails. A lot of other products seem to have counterweights, electrical equipment, guards and such. One of the nice things about Schweiss Doors is that we were able to work with them to do some custom work on the things that had to be there. It worked pretty well on the installation.”

The kiosk is a change of pace from some of the nationally prestigious projects WRNS is known for.

“We do a lot of bigger work, but a lot of the things we really are about are these small projects we do for the city because we live here and use these spaces too and we want to see them doing well,” Stroud says. “It’s work we are really passionate about. There was a really committed team of people working on it, not just from our office, but also from Rec & Parks, Trust for Public Land, Roebbelen, Bi-Rite and a bunch of different agencies in the city. Everybody really had the best interest of the project in mind and were behind making this happen. It was a great thing to work on.”

 The contractor assigned to building the kiosk was Roebbelen Contracting of El Dorado, Calif. Nick Tisell, a superintendent for Roebbelen says he was impressed with the doors and customer service from Schweiss Doors.

“The install went great and everything on these doors went swimmingly,” Tisell says. “We worked with Dave, Brent and Paul at Schweiss Doors and they were willing to take numerous phone calls from me no matter how complicated the questions were. They were all very helpful. Customer service from Schweiss was very good, I’m happy to say. I like the actual fabrication of the doors; shop drawings and the wiring diagrams were very good quality. Overall, these attractive doors give you the ability to put any type of cladding on them. It is a neat door with a wide opening surface.”

Installation of the bifold doors was completed by ABS Builders Inc., a general contractor from Maxwell, Calif., the same firm that installed the five large doors from Schweiss Doors on the new Kings Stadium Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Schweiss Doors is the premier manufacturer of hydraulic and bifold liftstrap doors. Doors are custom made to any size for any type of new or existing building for architects and builders determined to do amazing things with their buildings, including the doors. Schweiss also offers a cable to liftstrap conversion package. For more information, visit www.bifold.com.

Architect: WRNS Studio, San Francisco

Fabricator: Zahner, Kansas City

Installer: ABS Builders Inc., Maxwell, Calif.

General Contractor: Roebbelen Contracting, El Dorado, Calif.

Completion Date: October 2018

Photo Captions (All photos by Nick Tisell and Dave Schweiss):

BiRateCafe1: A significant part of the San Francisco revitalization effort, the Bi-Rite Cafe kiosk located on the Civic Center Plaza, offers food for the first time in this high-traffic area across from City Hall. The kiosk has five ornate bifold liftstrap doors ranging in size from 49 feet, 4 inches to 12 feet, 11 inches in width.

BiRateCafe2: Each of the five bifold doors can be opened or closed independently. When the kiosk closes for the day the doors automatically lock tight and can be open for business in the morning in no time at all.

BiRateCafe3: This side view of the 49’ door in the closed position shows how it guards the kiosk cafe, at right, from vandalism or unwanted visitors.

BiRateCafe4: Customers approaching the wide side of the kiosk can view a menu and see what the cafe has to offer through the windows. Water buffalo milk ice cream, anybody? The ornate laser-cut design on the aluminum 2-inch thick panels really dresses up the doors and when open gives a nice shaded canopy for customers to stand under placing their orders.

BiRateCafe5: The sturdy bifold doorframes and strong liftstraps easily handle the weight of the doors and lift them and lower them quickly and quietly.

BiRiteCafe6: This is the end bifold liftstrap door as it is being opened for a day of business. (All photos by Nick Tisell and Dave Schweiss)

Images (from left): BiRiteCafe1.jpg; BiRiteCafe2.jpg; BiRiteCafe3.jpg; BiRiteCafe4.jpg; BiRiteCage5.jpg; BiRiteCafe6.jpg

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