Seaglass is the main restaurant inside the relocated Exploratorium Museum – a San Francisco institution dedicated to the ongoing exploration of science, art, and human perception. Located on the eastern-most end of the museum at the water’s edge, Seaglass occupies a transparent glass box adjacent to the historic Pier 15 building that houses the main exhibition halls.
Operators Loretta Keller and Clay Reynolds were excited to take on this project and translate the Exploratorium’s sensibility of “learning through experience” to a food venue. The goal was to carry this ethos through the design of the space, while highlighting the waterfront location. Seaglass is functionally split into four zones: the kitchen, servery, bar, and dining room. Though each occupies its own space, physical walls between the uses are kept to a minimum. The servery space is immediately reminiscent of the bay nearby. The L-shaped serving bar, constructed from slabs of honed and rough-back Sierra White Granite, was carefully detailed to give the impression of a stone monolith. Speckled gray countertops and craggy facing call to mind the bay’s edge. The kitchen remains visible beyond, as cooks lay out platters of steaming food on display at servery stations located along the bar. Stations are indicated by articulations in the counter face, as well as overhead light boxes which signal the start of each queue. The Sea Bar forms the third “wall” of the servery, separating it from the bar and dining room. Constructed on-site using nearly 1,000 pieces of stacked plate-glass, the glowing blue-green structure floats in the middle of the space, beckoning visitors to partake in the sustainable sushi offerings and reminding the public of the bay’s water just beneath the piered restaurant structure. The bay water is also referenced in the gradated blue and green tile walls of the servery – the color range was inspired by the Exploratorium’s Color of Water exhibit which records the influence of atmospheric conditions on the bay water’s hue.
The space opens up to the 200-seat dining room, and a large variety of seating options. Some of the most popular seats are at the bar. This is an area where patrons can continue the Exploratorium experience not just by discovering new food and observing the workings of the kitchen, but by sitting at an exhibit. The glass bar was designed in collaboration with the museum staff to incorporate Icy Bodies – a piece that shows the interaction of dry ice with water and the riveting visual result of the reaction. It is a perfect place to have a drink and contemplate. The main dining room includes banquette seating, as well as low and high tables, oriented towards the views on either side – the bay to the east, and the outdoor seating, galleries and city to the west.