CommonWealth Partners is a fully integrated private real estate investment, development, management and operating company based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1995, the company combines the value-creating talents and hands-on operating expertise of an entrepreneurial development company with the discipline and research capabilities of an institutional investment firm. The company owns and manages premier institutional-quality office properties across the United States. One of CommonWealth Partners’ properties is 560 Mission, a 67,000-square-foot office tower located in the financial district of San Francisco, California. Designed by renowned architect, Cesar Pelli & Associates, the floor-to-ceiling glass and column-free space throughout this 31-story building allows for 360-degree access to light and air for tenants and visitors.

Lobby refresh with a brand new design

“We wanted something that you weren’t going to see in another building,” said Brad Collins, CommonWealth Partners’ property manager for 560 Mission. “I worked with Laura Burns-Lambert of Ambius previously at another building and really liked her designs, so I contacted her to get ideas for this project. She came back with some very creative design concepts, including the ‘Thousand Cranes’ theme we eventually chose.”

With very limited floor space in the lobby at 560 Mission, Burns-Lambert proposed a design that would utilize the 20-foot high ceilings to create an impressive overhead display. Inspired by a Japanese legend that promises that anyone who folds one thousand origami paper cranes would be granted a wish, Burns-Lambert’s plan was to suspend 560 origami cranes from the lobby ceiling. The symbolism of the cranes would be expressed to tenants and visitors as an invitation to join in a wish for peace, conservation and well-being around the world. “Her plan sounded really awesome and we were excited to see it,” said
Jeannie Tam, assistant property manager for 560 Mission.


Attention to every detail

The display was erected on the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving. Two lifts were needed to suspend three 15-foot-long branches from the wood panel ceiling in the lobby. Birchwood was chosen for its airy appearance and because the lightweight of the wood minimized stress on the decorative ceiling.

The branches were fireproofed to meet fire codes. The origami cranes, sourced from numerous local businesses and online vendors, had small weights attached to their internal fold to prevent them from getting tangled when the lobby doors let in the wind from the street. The cranes were made from colorful traditional origami paper, recycled magazines and other materials, which added visual interest.

To bring the display to eye level, one 12-foot replica tree and two live potted Redwood trees were placed in the lobby and decorated with 500 origami cranes and stars as a garland. LED lights were also strung on the trees, complementing the conservation theme. Packages placed under the trees were decorated with colorful wrapping paper, as well as traditional Japanese paper.

Visual impact exceeds expectations

“When Monday morning came after the display was set up and I returned to the building, I was just in awe with how well it turned out,” said Collins. “It was not just that it was festive and colorful. When the lobby doors opened up and the breeze came in, the cranes would start swaying back and forth. The movement was a very nice effect, as opposed to the previous display that was virtually stagnant. We received a lot of positive comments from our tenants and visitors to our building.” Laura Burns-Lambert’s work on the “Thousand Cranes” display was also honored with a 2013 Plantscape Industry Alliance (PIA) Award of Merit.

CommonWealth Partners is in the process of working with Ambius and Burns-Lambert on a new display for this year’s holiday season. “Jeannie Tam and I are talking over some of the great ideas Laura presented last year that we didn’t select as well as some new ones,” said Collins. “We haven’t decided which one to use just yet. They are all so creative and interesting; it’s been hard to choose. However, whichever design we choose, I am excited to see it.”

Realize what Laura could do for you — view her portfolio, here.