San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour
Wednesday afternoon, Jorge Arango, independent consultant, information architect, and coauthor of Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond, who is shown in Figure 2, led a two-and-a-half-hour tour of downtown San Francisco’s architecture. When attending two previous conferences, I had unfortunately missed this tour, so I was determined to experience the tour this time. I really enjoyed it.
Jorge described his tour as follows:
“We’ll be examining the city as an information environment…. We’ll learn how we form mental models of urban environments and what we can learn as designers to help us create more effective user experiences in information environments.”
The 15 lucky people participating in the tour gathered at the clock in the historic lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, at 335 Powell Street on Union Square, shown in Figure 3.
Image source: The Westin St. Francis Hotel
Throughout this tour of downtown San Francisco, Jorge referred to the five elements that define the image of a city, as defined by Kevin Lynch in his book The Image of the City:
- “Paths are the channels along which the observer customarily, occasionally, or potentially moves. They may be streets, walkways, transit lines, canals, railroads. For many people, these are the predominant elements in their image. People observe the city while moving through it, and along these paths the other environmental elements are arranged and related.”
- “Edges are the linear elements not used or considered as paths by the observer. They are the boundaries between two phases, linear breaks in continuity: shores, railroad cuts, edges of development, walls. … Such edges may be barriers, more or less penetrable, which close one region off from another; or they may be seams, lines along which two regions are related and joined together. These edge elements…are for many people important organizing features, …as in the outline of a city by water or wall.”
- “Districts are the medium-to-large sections of the city, conceived of as having two-dimensional extent, which the observer mentally enters inside of and which are recognizable as having some common, identifying character. … Most people structure their city to some extent in this way, with individual differences as to whether paths or districts are the dominant elements.”
- “Nodes are points, the strategic spots in a city into which an observer can enter and which are the intensive foci to and from which he is traveling. They may be primarily junctions, places of a break in transportation, a crossing or convergence of paths, moments of shift from one structure to another. Or the nodes may be simply concentrations, which gain their importance from being the condensation of some use or physical character, as a street-corner hangout or an enclosed square. Some of these concentration nodes are the focus and epitome of a district, over which their influence radiates and of which they stand as a symbol. … Many nodes…partake of the nature of both junctions and concentrations.”
- “Landmarks are another type of point reference, but…the observer does not enter within them; they are external. They are usually a rather simply defined physical object: building, sign, store, or mountain. … Some landmarks are distant ones, typically seen from many angles and distances, over the tops of smaller elements, and used as radial references. They may be within the city or at such a distance that…they symbolize a constant direction. … Other landmarks are primarily local, being visible only in restricted localities and from certain approaches.”
Jorge said, “This is a book about how people build mental models of urban environments.” Jorge’s “San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour” took the following path through the urban environment that is downtown San Francisco. Within just a few city blocks, we saw a great diversity of architectural styles and embodiments of Lynch’s five elements:
- Union Square was the first stop on our tour and is bounded by Powell, Geary, Stockton, and Post Streets. This open plaza was designed by the landscape architects Michael Fotheringham and April Philips and constructed over the world’s first underground parking garage, which was designed by the architect Timothy Pflueger and built in 1942. Figure 4 shows the Dewey Monument at the center of the square. This column commemorates Admiral George Dewey’s victory in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War and was originally built in 1901. It is topped by Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory. Jorge stated that “Union Square … is a prime example of two of [Lynch’s elements]: …landmarks and the node. … This square has these little [heart] landmarks on the corners. These are landmarks kind of at the level of the square. Whereas the column is a [district]-wide landmark. … [Union Square] is an opening in the urban fabric. [It] is a transportation hub. … It’s not uncommon for nodes to have landmarks associated with them. … These days, [Union Square] serves as the ceremonial heart of San Francisco.” The shopping, hotel, and theater district surrounding the plaza takes its name from Union Square, which, in turn, got its name from rallies in support of the Union Army that took place on the original plaza during the American Civil War. We walked diagonally across the plaza, then exited Union Square at its northeast corner, across from the Apple Union Square store. We walked one block down Post Street, then turned left at Grant Avenue.
Image source: BOCA
- Apple Union Square, shown in Figure 2, “is a landmark of sorts,” opposite Union Square at the intersection of Post and Stockton. It was designed by the UK architectural firm Foster + Partners. While we did not actually visit the store, Jorge described it briefly, saying, “Apple is rolling out a new strategy for their stores that has to do with creating private/public spaces. And this, I think, is the first one. … It has two levels and, behind that wall up there, you can go through the sides there. … There’s an open space in the back with trees and stuff, and they encourage people to hang out there. It is very specifically designed to blur the line between public and private, commercial and public spaces.”
- The White House / Banana Republic, shown in Figures 5 and 6, is located at 256 Grant Avenue, on the southeast corner of Grant Avenue and Sutter Street. The architect of this retail space was Albert Pissis. “This is a place where two different parts of the city meet. Kevin Lynch called these districts. Districts…have some common character,” said Jorge. Buildings within a district tend to use a similar architectural vocabulary. While the location of this building is still within the Union Square district, you can see the entrance to Chinatown a block further down Grant Avenue. After the earthquake and fire of 1906 leveled the Union Square district, those who rebuilt it were influenced by the City Beautiful Movement, which applied ornate surface decoration in the Beaux-Arts and neoclassical styles of architecture to modern construction using steel and glass. “Many of the buildings [in the Union Square district, including the White House], represent this Beaux-Arts style.”
- Dragon Gate to Chinatown, which was visible down Grant Avenue, as shown in Figure 7, “marks the passage into this different district,” noted Jorge. “If you cross the gate, you’ll feel like you are in a completely different city. It’s a part of the urban environment that has a completely different feeling. We do this all the time in information environments. We design the global navigation, then…[the] local navigation…has a different visual style for that part of the environment. … We’re…creating these districts. … There are reasons why districts emerge in the city….” Jorge described two major events that greatly impacted San Francisco: The Sierra Nevada Gold Rush of 1848–55 brought a huge influx of Chinese immigrants to San Francisco. These men came to work in the mines and on the transcontinental railroad. Their arrival resulted in the creation of the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America—at that time, a seedy “hive of prostitution and gambling.” Then, the earthquake and fire of 1906 “leveled both [the Union Square and Chinatown] districts. It was a catastrophe, but it was also an opportunity for this part of the city to be reborn. … Chinatown is an artifice. The style of Chinatown is not indigenous…to the city, but it’s also not indigenous to China.” The Chinese landowners wanted to clean up Chinatown and attract white tourists, so they hired Chinese-American architect Clayton Lee, who won a contest to design the gate and interpreted Chinese architecture for a white audience. The gate signifies:“ this is Chinatown.”
Image source: © Alice Wiegand / CC-BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)
- Hallidie Building, at 130–150 Sutter Street in the Financial District, was designed by the architect Willis Polk. Looking east, you can see that Sutter Street is “very canyon like,” remarked Jorge. “You can tell where the path is defined by the sides of the buildings, and the buildings all have kind of a similar surface treatment. … They’re all kind of white like the [buildings] we saw over by Union Square. … They all have kind of this Beaux-Arts style.” Except the eight-story Hallidie Building, shown in Figure 8, which is the first curtain-wall building constructed in the United States and opened in 1918. “This building sports the colors of the client—it’s yellow and blue for a reason. … This was commissioned by the regents of the University of California. The colors represent the school. Embracing new technology while respecting the past,” this building incongruously has neogothic surface decoration.
- Crocker Galleria, at 50 Post Street in the Financial District of San Francisco and shown in Figure 9, is a shopping mall that supplanted an alley named Lick Place. Jorge pointed out that this building has “a completely different architectural style…[and is] from a different era than the [buildings] we’ve been looking at so far, …which are from the first decade of the 20th century, after the fire. This building is from the early 1980s and…is highly representative of an architectural style called post-modernism. … The thing about post-modernism that makes it significant in architectural history is that [it] takes the idea of the semiotics of architecture and turns it into a game with the past, …kind of winking our eye at it. This building references a very famous building in Milan called the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is arguably the world’s first shopping mall. It was designed by an architecture firm called Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, one of the largest architecture firms in the world, in 1983. … Post-modernism…hasn’t aged well, in part because it’s an insider’s game. … This isn’t the most egregious example. It works as a shopping place.” Jorge led us up to a Roof Garden, shown in Figure 10, which is accessible from the third floor. It is “a POPOS (Privately Owned Public Open Space). … San Francisco…has set in place rules to try to preserve certain characteristics of the urban environment. Here, we’re going to talk about two of them. One is the POPOS; the other is air rights. The idea with POPOS is: …this is valuable real estate here, and we want to make money, so we’re going to build as much as we can. … The city of San Francisco said, ‘Whoa! We need public space. You can’t just keep building and take away the opportunity for people to have public spaces.’ So the compromise they came up with is this idea of these Privately Owned Public Open Spaces. How it works is: if you want to build past a certain amount of square footage in the center of the city, you have to provide a public space that you build and maintain yourself, and you have to pay for it. The result is this network of rooftop gardens. … They are public space, but they’re privately owned, and the companies that run them set rules. … These are not entirely public spaces, but the companies that run these buildings make them available for us during certain hours to compensate for the footprint that they’ve taken up. … Now, we’re going to go into the guts of this building.” We took the rear stairway to the second level of the Crocker Galleria, where the building adjoins the rear of the old Wells Fargo Bank in the Post Montgomery Center complex.
- Hobart Building—located at 582–592 Market Street on the northeast corn of its intersection with Montgomery Street, in the Financial District—is visible from the Crocker Galleria Roof Garden, as shown in Figure 11. It was designed by the architect Willis Polk. Jorge used this building as an example in describing how “air rights influence the design of the environment. … The idea with air rights is…to keep the downtown from becoming… overwhelmed by… enormous towers. They set a limit to how many stories a building can have, but you can buy the rights to the air from your neighbors. … You can see this most clearly in the Hobart building. … There’s this beautiful, ornate building and then there’s this thing—this savage cream wall. … There was another building there, and that building was demolished. … If you have lot with a building…that is taking up vertical space and you want to build a tower, you can demolish that [building]. This building—this lot—was bought by the company that built that tower behind us. The upper part of this building was in disrepair, [so] they tore down the tower part of the building and just kept the base and used the air rights from this part of the building to build that tower. … Dan Hill wrote a book called Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary, which I think every designer should read. … He talks about dark matter as the constraints on a design that aren’t expressed in the brief. Things like laws and regulations and politics play a part in what you do and the interventions that you make on an environment. In a place like this, it has very real impact on the form of the environment….”
- 44 Montgomery is a 43-story International-style office skyscraper, shown in Figures 12 and 13, immediately north of the Hobart Building at the corner of Sutter Street. The way the architect, John Graham & Co., designed the close spacing between the vertical risers draws the eye upward. Where “the building touches the ground, the vertical rhythm doubles,” said Jorge. The upper part of the building “communicating with the city,” but the lower part “communicates at the level of human beings. … They have to mediate between that gesture up there and the fact that you need to relate to this as a human being.” Jorge also commented that the building “is making compromises with its context” so is not a pure International-style building, but it’s “a very International-style move to lift the thing up on stilts.”
- One Montgomery is in the Financial District at 1 Montgomery Street, where Montgomery intersects with Post and Kearney Streets and was designed in 1908 by Willis Polk. The Crocker Galleria Roof Garden is actually on the roof of this building. This was formerly a Crocker Bank branch, but now houses a branch of the Wells Fargo Bank, and is part of the Post Montgomery Center complex. “This building was designed to be a bank,” said Jorge. “This bank was designed in the early part of the 20th century, and they haven’t changed it. So, even though it’s a working branch of Wells Fargo Bank, it has all of the trappings that made a bank a bank in the early 20th century, [with] an incredibly ornate ceiling and columns and marble everywhere,” as shown in Figures 14 and 15. The stone tables “have inkwells carved into them. The inkwells have been dry for a long time…. Recently, we’re not using places like this to do our banking either, so these things are not long for this world. In the Financial District, we’re going to be looking at a lot of places that were designed to be banks, and some of them are not banks anymore because companies like Wells Fargo can’t afford to keep places like this running. So this is like a…time capsule of what it meant to be a bank. Again, the idea of the semiotics of the environment. … This environment said all the right things.” Telesis Tower, which is also part of the Post Montgomery Center complex and is visible through the glass roof of the adjoining Crocker Galleria in Figure 16, is a 38-story office skyscraper that was designed by the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, and was built in 1982. We entered this branch of Wells Fargo Bank at 1 Montgomery Street, at the rear, on the second floor, as Figure 14 shows. Then, we went down to the portico at the bank’s main entrance on Montgomery Street. After leaving One Montgomery, we walked back to Sutter Street, which took us by 44 Montgomery at street level, then crossed to the north side of the street.
- Citigroup Center Atrium at One Sansome Street in the Financial District was originally designed by architect Albert Pissis in 1910 to be the London Paris National Bank, as shown in Figure 17. Pereira
and Associates designed the Atrium in 1984. “The architectural style here is different from the ones we’ve seen before,” said Jorge. “This is making references to ancient Greek temples, and what they’re saying here is…we want to inspire trust. One way to do that is to sheath ourselves in the mythology of the institutions that have provided the heartbeat to society in the past. People think of temples as stolid things, so let’s make a bank look like a temple.” This building “is no longer serving as a bank,” but Citibank owns it. They bought the building and wanted to build a tower, so they had to create a POPOS and decided to create it within the walls of the old bank, as shown in Figure 18. Figure 19 shows a detail of the “Star Maiden” statue by sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, which he created for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco. After leaving the Citigroup Center Atrium, we crossed Sansome Street, then turned left on Market Street and took a path that branched off to the left, which led to the E*Trade Financial Building.
- E*Trade Financial Center at 532 Market Street and Sansome Street sits in a park-like setting in the Financial District, shown in Figure 20. “This is the part of our tour that best typifies [edges],” said Jorge. After taking a curving path off Market Street and down into a hollow, “all of a sudden, we’re in a different domain here that is away from the hustle and bustle of the street. We’re literally at another level, and there is a very distinct edge.” We transition from public to private all the time. “In this case, there’s a transition from the street to this part of the environment. We were talking earlier about a building that does not respect the urban fabric and instead plays its own game, and this is it! This building, you will notice, is not set like the other buildings on the street. It does not go all the way to the front. What this building is doing here is an incredibly expensive move. This is intentional. This is not an accident. If you want to make money out of the thing, you do what the other ones did: you build out the block. If you want to make a statement, you do what this building did. It said, we have this block. We’re going to place our building in a tiny little corner of it, and we’re doing to set aside the rest of the environment for something else.”
- One Bush Plaza, or Crown Zellerbach Building, at 1 Bush Street and Market Street in the Financial District, is shown in Figures 21–24. This renowned building was designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill in 1959 and built by Crown Zellerbach as their headquarters. Their CEO “was in love with International-style architecture. He wanted to commission one of the foremost International-style architects in the world, Mies van der Rohe, …but Mies van der Rohe was engaged in another commission” for the Seagram’s building in New York, so he went with SOM instead.” The building has completely different semiotics from the others we’ve been looking at. “This does not respect its context. It does not respect the history of architecture. It’s saying something else completely. It’s very progressive.” It uses a new vocabulary. “When you go toward abstraction, the expression of the materials becomes incredibly important. … This is a box that is sheathed in very particular materials”—mosaics and stone. “You have to be very intentional if you’re going to do something like this.”
- Heineman Building, the very slender building at 130 Bush Street in the Financial District, which is shown in Figure 25, has a neogothic facade of bowed windows. It was designed by local architect G.A. Applegath in 1910.
- Shell Building, at 100 Bush Street and Battery Street, is a 28-story office tower in the Financial District of San Francisco that was occupied by the Shell Oil Company until the 1960s. Architect George W. Kelham designed it in 1929, in the Moderne and Art Deco architectural styles. This building “is playing another semiotic game that has to do with the business that the company that built it is in.” Shell motifs decorate the lobby floor and facade of the building, as shown in Figure 26.“It’s got a little of what’s going on with Beaux Arts, but it’s not…referencing past architectural styles. It’s a little more playful, and it’s got this kind of Jazz Age persona. … It was the last major building completed here before the Great Depression hit. And it happens to be sitting across the street from the first major architectural building that was completed in the center of the city after the economy had recovered—One Bush [Plaza]—so thirty years later.” The Heineman and Shell buildings are immediately across the street from One Bush Plaza. “Now we’re going to move to the final step in our tour, where we are going to look at another expression of architecture after our world has completely transformed.” We walked down Bush Street, traversing Market Street, and continuing on First Street on the other side, until construction stopped our progress, but we were within sight of the Salesforce Tower.
- Salesforce Tower, at 415 Mission Street, between First and Fremont Streets in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco, has 61 floors, is the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, and dominates the skyline, as shown in Figure 27. It was designed by architect César Pelli, and its construction was completed in 2018. Jorge told us, “This thing has been widely criticized in architecture circles. … It’s a tower that could be anywhere. The Transamerica Tower, which it has displaced as the landmark of the city, is a unique building, and it is unique for a reason. … The pyramid. The reason why that building has that shape is that it was built at a time when we didn’t have the structural techniques that we have now. And it’s a pyramid because the triangle was the more stable form. So its form emerges from this idea of: how do we make a tall building in a seismically active place. So it’s more unique to San Francisco. It was very expensive to make the Transamerica Tower because the upper floors have less square footage than the lower floors. When you’re making something like that, you want as much real estate as possible. So it’s not feasible to make something like that again. This thing could be anywhere….”This was the final stop on our tour.
“We looked at landmarks, and we talked about landmarks having scale, and there being local landmarks and city-wide landmarks. This building is meant to be a regional landmark, and that’s why, when you see photos of an executive tower towering over San Francisco, in the same way that the Transamerica Tower was a regional landmark for San Francisco, I think it works better as a regional landmark than as a local landmark in some ways,. But we’ll see with time. We’ll see whether this move to move the heart of the city down here pays off. It’s too soon to tell.”
“All of the things we talked about are at play here, Jorge said in summary: The fact that we are in a different district, and you’ll notice that the quality of the environment here is quite different from the quality in the Union Square area and in Chinatown. Edges. You’ll notice that the Transbay Transit Center establishes an edge here. You can go under it, but it’s a distinctive edge to the environment. Nodes. It’s a supernode. It’s a regional node. Then finally paths, which we can’t appreciate here because our path is blocked. These are the components that allow us to make sense of where we are and to create a mental model of the environment. And, in relation to the ocean or the bay, that’s just another important characteristic of this environment. As you walk around the environment, hopefully your mental model of the place is now a little more complete, and you’re able to navigate this environment more successfully.”
“This walk has been in space, but has also been in time in some ways,” mused Jorge. “We started in the historical heart of San Francisco, Union Square, and this architectural style that references the past—the Beaux-Arts style. Here we are standing within sight of what is consciously being designed as the future heart of San Francisco. So we’ve kind of traveled from the past, through some of the architectural history of the 20th century, and now we’re looking at where we are now. This is representative of not just where the city wants its heart to be, but where architecture is now. There are two important buildings here: one is the Salesforce Tower, which opened recently. … The other thing I want you to take a look at…is the Transbay Transit Center.
- Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Park is located south of Mission Street in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco and extends from Second to Beale Streets. Its goal is to “centralize regional transportation,” and it will be the primary intermodal transit terminal for buses and trains for the San Francisco Bay Area. “We’ll have multiple transportation networks meeting here,” noted Jorge. “Again, this idea of the POPOS. Let’s not just build out commercial infrastructure, let’s also make public space here. What they’re hoping is that this will become the new commercial center of the city. … South of Market has been traditionally warehouses and the more industrial part of the city.” The Transbay Transit Center was designed by the architect César Pelli, of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA), “who, like Polk, works in many different styles. This is a very ahistorical style.” While it is still under construction, its public rooftop park is visible in the distance in Figure 28.
“One of the interesting aspects of South of Market, this part of the city that we’re in, is that a lot of this real estate was reclaimed from the ocean,” related Jorge. Many of “the people that came here during the Gold Rush…came in ships,” which remained derelict in the bay. “The city passed an ordinance that…said, whoever has anchored a vessel here, if you reclaim the land around it, you own the land. … Significant parts of the city grew up housed in these ships that turned into buildings—where the ship was left anchored where it was, and they just piled earth onto it, and they became hotels and bars. Some of those ships are beneath us. … Building on reclaimed land like this, you have to dig deeper than if you were building on bedrock. There’s a very famous case here of a building…called Millennium Tower—and it’s a very expensive building that was built kind of contemporarily with the Salesforce Tower—that is actually sinking because the foundation didn’t go deep enough. It’s sinking significantly.”
As UX designers, “we have it easy in some ways. We can institute changes at scale fairly quickly by flipping bits. If you make a big mistake in the urban environment, you can really mess things up.”
Unlike architecture, “the things that we work on are continuously evolving,” acknowledged Jorge. “I’m starting to see pushback against the move toward flat user interfaces—this visual style that was all the rage in reaction to skeuomorphism. Let’s make everything flat. And Microsoft had the [purest] expression of it with the Metro UI.”
“When we design information environments, we establish things that are equivalent to landmarks. … We have paths. We have edges. … We have districts. … We do these things for information environments, and my goal is to get us to start thinking of them as rich environments and to very consciously design them for the experience that people want to have as they traverse those environments.”
The Main Conference at the Mission Bay Conference Center
During the two days of the main conference, each morning and afternoon focused on a different theme.
Program for Thursday, June 14, 2018
- Keynote: Cleaning Up Our Mess: Digital Governance for Designers—Lisa B, author of Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design
- Theme 1: BUILD—Theme leader: Eduardo Ortiz, Co-founder of PRTNRS
- Bias Toward Action: Building Teams That Build Work—Husani Oakley, SVP, Director of Technology at Deutsch
- Ethics in Tech Education: Designing to Provide Opportunity for All—Mariah Hay, VP of Product at Pluralsight
- Lives on the Line: The Stakes of UX at the Scale of Government—Marina Martin, former CTO of the Department of Veterans Affairs
- BUILD: Discussion
- Theme 2: COMMUNICATE—Theme leader: Margot Dear, Senior Director of User Experience at ADP
- Communicating the ROI of UX Within a Large Enterprise and Out on the Streets—JD Buckley, Principal, UX Strategy & Research at ADP Innovation Center
- Peace Is Waged with Sticky Notes: Mapping Real-World Experiences—Jim Kalbach, Head of Customer Success at MURAL
- Innovate with Purpose—Janaki Kumar, VP, Design Evangelist, Office of the Chief Design Officer, at SAP Labs
- COMMUNICATE: Discussion
- Enterprise Storytelling Sessions—Session coordinator: Dan Willis, UX Consultant at Cranky Productions
Program for Friday, June 15, 2018
- Theme 3: INVEST—Theme leader: Amy Marquez, Manager, Alexa Personality Experience team, at Amazon.
- A Roadmap for Maturing Design in the Enterprise—JJ Kercher, Head of Customer Experience, Real Estate, at AppFolio
- The Magic Word Is Trust—Dorelle Rabinowitz, Senior Director, Global Design, PayPal
- How to Identify and Increase Your Experience Quotient—Patanjali Chary, VP of User Experience at Ellie Mae
- INVEST: Discussion
- Theme 4: SCALE—Theme leader: Tricia Wang, Co-founder of Sudden Compass
- Standardizing Product Metrics for Leaders, Designers, and Everyone—Jennifer Cardello, Head of Design Ops at athenahealth
- We’ll Figure That Out in the Next Launch: Enterprise Tech’s Nobility Complex—Nancy Douyan, International User Experience Researcher at Uber
- Making People the X-Factor in the Enterprise—SVP at Salesforce
- SCALE: Discussion
- Keynote: Creativity and Principles in the Flourishing Enterprise—Richard Buchanan, Professor of Design, Management, & Innovation at Case Western Reserve University
Part 2 of this Enterprise UX 2018 review will cover highlights from the main conference sessions.
Rosenfeld Media again presented the schedule for the entire conference within a combination badge / program booklet. With the badge information on both sides of the cover, the badge was always properly oriented for easy reading by our fellow attendees. Since they printed the program information upside down relative to the badge, there was no need for the wearer to flip the booklet over to read it.
On the EUX 2018 Web site, the “Program” and “Speakers” sections provided complete information about the conference, including social events. Rosenfeld Media is still preserving complete historical information for EUX 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 on subsections of their Web site. Within about a week after each conference, they’ve added links on the “Program” page to presentation decks on SlideShare, videos on YouTube, and sketchnotes and tripnotes for many of the sessions. There are videos of all talks and discussions on the Web site. I am really impressed by the generosity of their making all this content freely available to the general public.
During the conference, MJ Broadbent captured the essence of every theme in her wonderful sketchnotes, as shown in Figure 29. Natalie Hanson diligently captured detailed sketchnotes throughout the conference.
The conference hotel and venue for the conference workshops was the beautiful Sheraton Palace Hotel, shown in Figures 30–31. Built in 1875, this historic hotel offers some of the finest accommodations in San Francisco. I commuted into San Francisco daily for the conference, so didn’t stay at the hotel.
Image source: Palace Hotel
The main conference venue was the modern Mission Bay Conference Center, on the UCSF Mission Bay campus, which is shown in Figures 32–35. It is one of the best conference venues I’ve experienced. Shuttle vans ran between the Palace Hotel and the Conference Center, at the beginning and end of each day. Plus, everyone received a $20 Lyft credit for other trips.
Image source: Mission Bay Conference Center
The registration desk, the conference sponsors’ booths, and the buffet-dining area, shown in Figures 33 and 35, were all located in various nooks and crannies arrayed around the central hall of the conference center.
The main auditorium at the Mission Bay Conference Center, shown in Figure 34, was comfortable, had great acoustics, and was just the right size for the approximately 500 UX professionals attending this conference. It provided everyone with a clear view of the stage and the large centrally located screen. There was free wi-fi for conference attendees, as well as a Slack workspace for the conference.
Hospitality and Events
Each day began with an early continental breakfast before the workshops or the conference sessions started. Food and beverages were on offer during the half-hour morning and afternoon breaks, and a delicious, catered buffet lunch was served during a generous hour-and-a-half lunch break, as shown in Figure 35. Seating for diners was available in a spacious dining room.
As usual, Rosenfeld Media did a great job of playing host and fostering social interactions between conference attendees during the day. At night, there were a variety of events to entertain attendees, as follows:
- Wednesday, June 13:
- Happy Hour—At the end of the full day of workshops, ServiceNow sponsored a happy hour where EUX attendees were served complimentary cocktails and appetizers in the Ralston Ballroom at the Palace Hotel, shown in Figure 36.
- Speaker & Sponsor Dinner—Later in the evening, UXmatters attended a dinner for EUX speakers and sponsors at Fang, a nearby Chinese restaurant with banquet-style dining tables. They served a seemingly endless array of different dishes. Lou invited some Rosenfeld Media authors to attend as well, which along with the speakers and sponsors, made for a very nice gathering and lots of interesting conversations.
- Thursday, June 14:
- Opening Reception—After the Enterprise Storytelling Sessions that concluded Day 1 of the main conference, there was a Cisco-sponsored reception at 111 Minna Gallery, where the first-ever EUX Battle Decks Enterprise Edition—also know as PowerPoint Karaoke—took place. As shown in Figure 37, Emcee Erika Hall presided over the competition, along with a panel of judges that included Christian Crumlish, Laura Klein, and Steve Portigal. The place was mobbed with attendees and Lou’s special guests. Refreshments were served.
- Friday, June 15:
- Closing Reception at Google—Once the final day of the conference had ended, conference attendees gathered at Google for appetizers and drinks. The venue for this reception was not nearly as conducive to serendipitous social interactions as the beautiful Autodesk Gallery had been, when the EUX closing party took place there in 2017. At Google, the reception was spread across three distinct and somewhat isolated spaces—a room off the sign-in area where Google experts were on hand to discuss their latest projects and prospect for possible job candidates; a fairly large, cafeteria dining room; and a roof deck.
Rosenfeld Media book signings took place at their book stall during lunch breaks.
Through long experience with the IA Summit and Rosenfeld Media’s various conferences, Lou Rosenfeld has developed the ability to foster a true sense of community at the conferences he organizes. EUX 2018 brought together professionals working in various disciplines whose common focus is the essential topic of enterprise user experience.
EUX 2018 was an excellent conference covering diverse topics relating to enterprise user experience for today’s UX professionals and the broader business community. For large organizations to compete in today’s marketplace, they must deliver superior experience outcomes. EUX is the conference at which you can learn how to do that more successfully. I am looking forward to attending the next iteration of this conference, which will take place June 3–5, 2019, in San Francisco—as usual, beginning with a full day of workshops, then two days for the main conference.
A Lou Rosenfeld wrote in a recent article, the conference will focus on two new use cases in 2019:
- “Helping UX leaders and managers more effectively partner with their peers in product management, CX, and other parts of the enterprise that share responsibility for delivering great experiences
- “Helping enterprise UX practitioners up-level their skillsets to become enterprise ready.”
Discount for UXmatters Readers—If you want to attend this conference in 2019, sign up for the Enterprise UX mailing list for updates, access to early-bird pricing, and more. Then, once registration opens, register using the discount code UXMATTERS, and you’ll get 5% off the price of your conference ticket.