Launch Slideshow

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House of Air

House of Air

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    Ethan Kaplan Photography

    House of Air is located in a former airfield in San Francisco, part of a burgeoning sports district that includes a bike shop, a rock-climbing gym, and a swimming pool.

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    The facility is marked by a 45-foot-long glass bifold door.

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    The open door allows passersby to see people training on three high-performance trampolines.

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    Courtesy Mark Horton / Architecture

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    Courtesy Mark Horton / Architecture

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    Ethan Kaplan Photography

    View out over the high-performance trampoline and through the bifold door.

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    Blue backlit Polygal walls brighten the interior and create brand identity. Pivot doors in the upper-level party rooms allow groups to shut off or take in the raucous atmosphere below.

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    Timeline display at entrance.

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    Skilift chairs suspended from catwalk.

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    Lounge.

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    Large field of trampolines in the rear of the space.

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    Catwalks provide access to upper-level party rooms and offices, but also afford views of all four trampoline areas: the Training Ground in the front, the green, net-enclosed dodgeball stadium and inflatable bounce-house in the middle, and the large blue field of trampolines in the rear.

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    Party room interior with blue Polygal wall.

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    Courtesy Mark Horton / Architecture

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    Blue pivot door.

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    View out through pivot door.

The owners of House of Air, two 30-something snowboarding entrepreneurs, happily build upon the flight connotations of their new home: a 1921 biplane hangar converted into what they call an indoor trampoline park. The staff wear reflector-embellished fluorescent nylon vests with “FLIGHT CREW” stenciled on the back. When asked the meaning of their logo—a penguin sporting a jetpack—employees recite their tagline with a grin: “We give flight to the flightless.”

Labeled with military flatness, Building 926 is part of a complex of hangars and support buildings tucked in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Crissy Field, as the area is called, was added to the sprawling Presidio military base on the heels of World War I and played host to a number of aviation firsts before rapidly evolving airplane technology rendered its short field and windy, foggy locale operationally obsolete.

Decommissioned in 1994, the Presidio became part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Many of its buildings, including 926, were designated as historic by the National Historic Landmarks Program, which severely limits modifications to the exterior of the buildings, even as the nonprofit Presidio Trust requires LEED certification for any new work on the property.

Mark Horton / Architecture was recommended to the trampoline park’s owners because of the firm’s studies for an unrealized aviation museum in the Crissy Field buildings. Moreover, principal Mark Horton, FAIA, is a strategic thinker who thrives on projects that require industrious invention on tight budgets, a good thing given that half the budget was required to seismically upgrade the light, steel structure holding up the original 6-inch-thick and supposedly bombproof concrete roof. Another quarter of the budget was required for extensive remediation of asbestos and other toxics.

“These guys came to us just wanting to get it built out and up and running. They had no real vision about the design,” Horton says. The architect convinced his clients to spend what was left of the budget on two key ideas: First, a massive 45-foot-wide bifold glass door to replace the original hangar door; second, a pair of interior pavilions framing the most visible of four trampoline areas. The north pavilion contains the check-in station, a café, a shop, and the shoe room (trampolining, like bowling, requires special footwear). The south houses bathrooms and locker rooms.

Given the soaring ceiling, Horton included a set of party rooms and offices on an upper level, serviced by a lift and stairs and connected by a series of catwalks. The catwalk system extends to allow a lively overview of the action on all the trampolines. The full-height pavilion walls are simple white sheetrock for the first 9 feet, they then switch to vivid, blue Polygal affixed to metal studs. Sandwiched in the Polygal wall are randomly scattered, vertically oriented flourescent lights that urge the flyers ever higher and give the entire park a blue glow.

The flightless who take flight on the trampolines at the House of Air range from eight-year-olds burning off steam to adult snow- and skateboarders perfecting their technique. On a typical day, a group of women take aerobics on the field of trampolines that occupies the back third of the hangar; office workers engage in a (mostly) friendly game in the steep-sided dodgeball stadium that occupies the one side of the middle trampoline zone; and a family out for a day of recreation uses the inflatable bounce house (for those too young for the tramps).

For those abstaining from jumping, there is a lounge eclectically furnished with Ikea couches, aluminum picnic tables, plastic children’s tables, and four old ski-lift chairs suspended from the underside of the catwalk. Finally, front and center, are flyers using three high-performance trampolines, known as the Training Ground, for lessons, and competitions.

In nice weather, the bifold door is opened. Exterior signage was severely limited by the historic protocols, but the House of Air needs no other sign than its glowing interior. “We had no idea what a great design could do for us,” says co-owner Paul McGeehan. “Within three days of opening, we were operationally profitable.”


Project Credits

Project House of Air, San Francisco
Client House of Air
Architect Mark Horton / Architecture, San Francisco—Mark Horton, FAIA (principal); David Gill (project architect); Matt Shanks (designer)
Mechanical Engineer Allied Heating and Air Conditioning Co.
Structural Engineer Holmes Culley
Electrical Engineer Cupertino Electric
General Contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co.
Lighting Designer Associated Lighting Representatives
Fire Consultant Holmes Fire & Safety
Graphic Designer Mine SF
Plumbing Engineer DPW
Owner’s Representative Studley Project Management
Size 21,440 square feet
Cost Withheld

Materials and Sources

Adhesives, Coatings, and Sealants Sika usa.sika.com
Appliances
True Manufacturing Co. truemfg.com; The Manitowoc Co. manitowoc.com; Nuova Simonelli nuovasimonelliusa.com
Carpet
Tandus Flooring tandus.com
Concrete
Structural grade slab, footings, and wall repairs
Flooring Azrock azrock.com
Furniture
Ikea ikea.com
Glass
PPG Industries ppg.com
Gypsum
National Gypsum Co. nationalgypsum.com
HVAC
Carrier Corp. www.corp.carrier.com; Titus titus-hvac.com
Insulation
Owens Corning owenscorning.com
Lighting-Control Systems
WattStopper wattstopper.com
Lighting
H.E. Williams hewilliams.com; Finelite finelite.com; Solis; Philips Omega omegalighting.com; Visa Lighting www.visalighting.com
Metal
Structural steel; Anodized aluminum
Millwork Commercial Casework commercialcasework.com
Paints and Finishes
Kelly-Moore Paints kellymoore.com
Plumbing and Water System
Zurn Industries zurn.com; Elkay Manufacturing Co. elkay.com; Florestone florestone.com
Roofing
Siplast siplast.com
Structural System
Lee’s Imperial Welding www.leeiw.com
Walls
Polygal North America polygal-northamerica.com
Windows, Curtainwalls, and Doors
Schweiss Doors (bifold doors) bifold.com; Kawneer kawneer.com