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A New Home for Letterform Archive

We urgently need a new home. Luckily, we found the one we always imagined. Now you can make it a reality

A few months ago our landlord informed us that they wanted Letterform Archive out of the building.

The shock of this news soon faded as we recognized the drawbacks of our current location. In so many ways, we are near or beyond capacity.

When we imagine the Archive of the future, we imagine a place worthy of the history we hold. We see a purpose-built, contiguous space for classes, tours, collections, and staff. We dream of a larger venue for events, where more of our community can gather. We picture a dedicated gallery for exhibits. We long for accessibility to public transit. Most of all, we need room to grow.

When we imagine the Archive of the future we picture something like this:

This is the administration building of the American Industrial Center, a 100-year-old complex stretching for several blocks on San Francisco’s Third Street. It’s minutes away from the Archive, anchoring the Dogpatch, a burgeoning creative district rising out of industrial warehouses and shipping piers. The AIC is a prototype of successful urban revival. Formerly a can factory, it now houses nearly 300 tenants, from architects and designers to bakers and brewers. At the heart of this “city within a city” is a separate building, a warm and characterful brick structure with its own entrance and storefronts.

Fortunately for us, the entire fourth floor of this building is available for a long-term lease at a reasonable rate. The owners genuinely want us to be there. Somehow, after a long and frustrating search, wading into the dire San Francisco real estate market, we found the future we imagined.

Here’s the catch: Only our community can make this dream a reality.

Donate now

More space. Better space.

This new space would nearly double our usable square footage. This means a larger classroom and reading room that can join seamlessly for seating more guests at lectures and salons. It lets us add a permanent gallery for rotating exhibitions. And, most importantly, it offers much more room for the collection, as well as more efficient and cohesive storage of related material. Building out the space to our own specifications also allows for safer collections storage with sun protection and climate control.

The Archive is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and we won’t sacrifice the brightness and charm of our public spaces as we shift to this new location. For example, here’s a peek at what could be the new reading room:

Update, December 5, 2019 —  We’ve begun the build out! Check out our current floor plan.

The historic building’s expansive and plentiful windows look out onto Third Street with all its cafés, shops, and amenities, including a light rail stop (Muni T Third Line), which connects the neighborhood to the East Bay via BART and South Bay via Caltrain. For the first time, Archive guests will be able to ride trains — from downtown San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, or the airport — right to our door.

There has never been a better time to support the Archive. Your gift provides:

  • Room for more students
  • A gallery for exhibits
  • Opportunities to host larger events
  • A larger, safer space for the collection
  • A custom photo studio for more efficient digitization
  • Better access to the Archive

You can make it real.

We all knew we would eventually need a new home. We just didn’t expect it to happen this fast. And then, when facing the challenge of finding the right place in a difficult market, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better result.

But it can only happen with your support.

If you’ve ever been to Letterform Archive, you know how much we care about providing an inspirational experience. In early 2020, we could have a new space that lives up to that standard.

The Archive has never faced a more immediate need, nor a greater opportunity. You can make it real.

  • Your gift is 100% tax-deductible
  • Your gift will go directly to fund the Archive’s new home
  • Your gift of $60 or more comes with membership!