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A creative space for self-driving semi trucks and the people who make them

Embark needed to find a shared workspace that would accommodate hardware, software, and operations teams. Given Embark employees’ commute patterns, identified by Raise’s proprietary software, the company also felt it was important to be reasonably close to Caltrain.

The Raise team went to work only to find that many manufacturing buildings in San Francisco designate a large portion of their spaces to industrial use and only a small, ancillary portion to office use. Unfortunately, this uneven distribution of space was not an optimal solution because it threatened to silo work and stifle innovation.

Another challenge with Embark’s search for space centered around their primary product: Semi Trucks. The company needed to be able to park five Semi Trucks inside their office to streamline product development and testing. Despite being a very unusual requirement for an office in the city of San Francisco, our team welcomed the challenge!

The Raise team dove right in and immediately engaged experts at both the San Francisco Planning Department and across the private sector to bring San Francisco’s zoning regulations into tighter focus. Raise defined in detail how Embark’s operational practices aligned with San Francisco’s zoning laws to prepare for negotiations with landlords down the road.

We also established a strategy that broadly surveyed the market to ensure any possible match to Embark’s unique requirements was considered and toured. Over the course of the deal, the Raise team identified and visited at least 50 buildings as potential matches for Embark’s needs – and all were located near a Caltrain station.

Throughout the search, we never lost sight of Embark’s vision: Enable them to collaborate and iterate in order to move the trucking industry forward. We refused to shortlist any building until we had worked with a truck driver to test that the building’s layout worked to seamlessly navigate people and trucks in and out of the space.

It was nice to feel that I and my team had someone in our corner – with genuine emotional investment – when it came to finding a property as well as negotiating the lease.
Rayna Balogh
Operations Manager, SF

Two months after our search began, we found the perfect space for Embark by leasing and reimagining an old San Francisco Giants memorabilia warehouse near 4th and King St. In the buildout phase of the project, we worked closely with Embark and the landlord on a layout that would allow semi trucks to not only enter the space but also to parallel park in stalls where the team could work together around the trucks. 

Overall, Embark’s purpose-driven layout design and buildout focused on getting work done as a team and facilitating a new way of thinking about the world of commercial transportation.