GLIDE Foundation, EHDD Architecture Collaborate on Vision for GLIDE SF Headquarters Modernization Project

San Francisco, GLIDE Foundation, EHDD Architecture, Glide Memorial Church, GLIDE Services and Administration
Rendering by EHDD Architecture

By Bekka Wiedenmeyer

The GLIDE Foundation has served San Francisco communities since 1929, providing critical direct services that address hunger, addiction, homelessness and more through its facilities at 302, 330 and 334 Ellis Street. As a nationally recognized center for social justice, GLIDE has advocated for families and individuals throughout the Tenderloin and surrounding communities, helping them to achieve and maintain stability through comprehensive services and community programs. In an effort to expand their operations and continue pushing the strategic “GLIDE Forward” initiative, GLIDE is considering renovations for their current block on Ellis Street through the GLIDE Modernization Project. 

The project, led by San Francisco-based architecture and planning firm EHDD Architecture, includes the development of a new 10-story building at 330 Ellis and the adjacent 334 Ellis block, as well as renovations to Glide Memorial Church at 302 Ellis.

“Taken together, these improvements would provide the GLIDE community with better access to integrated services in a welcoming, accessible, sustainable building, and would allow GLIDE to build new community partnerships to provide expanded services in the future,” said Leigh Hanson, interim chief development officer and senior director of institutional partnerships at GLIDE.

The project, which is in early stages of development, aims to upgrade and modernize GLIDE’s current facilities, which have not undergone major renovations since original construction. Two existing buildings are on the project site, the GLIDE Services and Administration building at 330 Ellis and Glide Memorial Church at 302 Ellis. 

According to project documents, the current Services and Administration building isn’t structured to accommodate GLIDE’s needs and meal, health and social welfare services. Originally designed for residential use, the inadequate square footage, dark and outdated ground floor entrances and basement-level dining facilities and lack of optimization at the vacant 334 Ellis Street lot pose challenges for GLIDE to effectively serve the surrounding community. Limited accessibility, antiquated industrial systems and outdated seismic infrastructure are additional challenges that GLIDE hopes to address through the modernization project.

GLIDE’s vision for the project is multifold: Develop a new Services and Administration Building that will allow for GLIDE to effectively connect with clients in a more welcoming and inclusive manner; update infrastructure to improve seismic stability, operations and logistics; and increase GLIDE’s impact on the Tenderloin community through expanded gathering spaces, improved mobile services and street frontage revisions. The project team has taken care to address GLIDE’s core values through their proposed design, and submitted a preliminary project application in February of this year that provides additional details of the project’s vision. 

The new Services and Administration Building at 330 and 334 Ellis will be approximately 88,951 square feet and 165 feet tall. The building will include a reception and adjacent intake area, and expands GLIDE’s capacity for mobile services and remote outreach. Dining spaces which were previously located at the basement level will be moved and expanded at the ground floor levels, creating more space for go-to meals and accessibility for clients dining on site. 

Levels two and three of the new building will be dedicated for integrated client services, levels four and five to programs and client support and Levels six and seven to administrative office space. Levels eight and nine are intended for policy and advocacy use, and level 10 will include an expansive gathering and auditorium space, as well as a kitchen and setup area and landscaped outdoor terrace. The rooftop will house modernized mechanical equipment for both the new building and Glide Memorial Church.

The additional space in the new building will allow for flexibility so that GLIDE can implement a variety of programs, including those that are women and family-centric. The spaces can also be flexed to accommodate social justice, education and training needs. The additional square footage will allow for the implementation of new building systems like HVAC and vertical circulation.

Currently, the basement levels below 302 and 330 Ellis are used for GLIDE’s preparation and delivery of meals. Mechanical and infrastructure systems will be upgraded to meet current standards, and a new vehicle loading ramp built along the west side of the site will give much needed access to the basement areas and help expand mobile services. 

While renovations to Glide Memorial Church are included in the modernization project, the changes focus mainly on basement and ground level areas, as well as the street frontage. The sanctuary will remain structurally intact. Glide Memorial Church’s ground floor will be expanded to create a more welcoming entryway, reducing the bottleneck that its current smaller entry tends to cause. Since the basement levels below the church and 330 Ellis will be renovated to create a more streamlined approach to meal preparation and delivery, moving those efforts away from the sidewalk, the streetscape can be reclaimed for other uses. The design team has proposed widening the sidewalks along both Ellis and Taylor streets, which will allow for more landscaping, bicycle parking and improved safety for pedestrians. The widened sidewalks will act as a buffer space for church congregants to gather, without blocking the flow of passage. 

While the material selection phase will occur later in the design process, the team is ensuring the exterior design of the new building at 330 Ellis complements Glide Memorial Church while also responding to the surrounding urban context of the neighborhood. The building has been pulled back from the property line along the west side to create space for a large side yard.

Because the project remains in the early stages, Hanson explained that aspects of the project’s vision may evolve over time, including the project’s budget.

“The preliminary project assessment is reflective of the very early project stage GLIDE is at presently,” Hanson said. “The financial scope of the modernized integrated-services building is still to be determined. Initial cost estimates are $150 to $200 million, but that may change based on final building designs, timelines and GLIDE’s funding options and ability to secure resources for the proposed and much needed project.”

According to Hanson, the timeline for the Modernization Project is expected to extend until 2027. The team will continue working through the initial design stage during 2022 and 2023, followed by an environmental and entitlements review period through 2025. The project is slated for construction and completion during 2026 and 2027.

“GLIDE will continue to make progress on design and related concerns for developing a safe, innovative facility that is accessible, fully functional and sustainable, and that better serves the GLIDE community,” Hanson said.

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