Zero¡ and mc2

San Francisco, CA
Posted August 29, 2001

For the Zero° café and mc2 restaurant, located in an historic building in San Francisco's Barbary Coast district, Propp Guerin (San Francisco) had to design a graphic system that would work with the bold architectural elements and traditional brick shell. The result is a modern facade and graphic system that contrasts well with the area's more classical architecture.

Simple, bold forms and strong colors in the signage complement the building's brick-and-steel framework. Propp Guerin named the cafe Zero° (Celsius for freezing) and created cool blue, painted-steel illuminated signage on the exterior. The interior signage is individual letters fabricated from waterjet-cut pieces of dichroic glass that change colors as you view it from different angles. At mc2, the understated exterior blade sign is a sandblasted-glass panel with a steel frame. Below it, a menuboard in a metal frame glows with orange perimeter lighting, a nod to the warm temperature of the premier product: tarte flambee (a paper-thin pizza).

The soup-to-nuts project involved all interior and exterior signage, down to the beer taps in mc2 (prismatic pieces of glass that have an etched background and sandblasted lettering filled with white goldleaf). Propp Guerin worked closely with Mark Cavagnero Associates (San Francisco) to create a seamless look at both venues. In addition to winning a Merit Award in the 2001 SEGD Design Awards competition, the restaurant and café also won two James Beard awards, for architecture and graphics -- kind of like an Oscar for food.

Signage/Graphic Design: Propp Guerin, San Francisco -- James Propp and Robert Guerin, principals

Architect: Mark Cavagnero Associates, San Francisco

Signage: Thomas Swan Sign Co., San Francisco; Hawkeye Architectural Signs, Novato, Calif.

Photography: Sharon Risedorph, San Francisco