Architects: David Baker & Partners
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Client: BRIDGE Housing
Contractor: Nibbi Brothers General Contractors
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 131,800 sqm
Photographs: Brian Rose
This complex development fills a formerly industrial city block with an innovative housing mix: Affordable urban townhomes to keep growing families in the city and family housing adjacent to senior apartments to prevent seniors from living in isolation.
Leading a trend of transit-oriented development along the district’s main business corridor, the development lies just a block from a stop of a new light-rail line, a park, and a health center. The senior building, with 116 affordable rental units, serves as the anchor for the development, housing neighborhood-serving retail space and services and presenting an iconic tower at the corner that signals a sense of place.
To reflect the historically African-American population of the neighborhood, design details were drawn from traditional African textiles and symbols. Textile-inspired paint and window arrangements combine to wrap the public face of the building in an interlocking “quilt” of color and pattern. The courtyard is ringed by a wall inset with Ashanti tribal symbols representing security, wisdom, power, love, unity, and hope.
Based on income, the rents range from $0 to $635/month, with qualifying income levels below 50% AMI and some units reserved for formerly homeless seniors. The building is LEED NC Registered, with a goal of Gold. It features many complementary green strategies, including storm-water management, solar arrays that heat domestic water and light the common spaces, and healthy interiors and materials.
The senior apartments overlook the park, the courtyard, or a landscaped mews that runs between the building and the family townhouse development. The mews, an extension of the city street grid, provides direct access to the surrounding neighborhood and serves as a walking path away from the main arterial roadway.
In the family development, two mirrored sections of stacked townhouses flank a large open public courtyard above one level of parking, lobby, and community spaces. While staying connected to the city streets through private stoops and balconies, the townhouses surround the central courtyard, which features vegetable gardens, outdoor seating, and a picnic and play structure. Each side also features a smaller private courtyard with planters and picnic tables.
Of the 124 family townhomes, half feature three and four bedrooms, allowing people to stay as families grow. Many larger units are designed for aging in place, with stairs wide enough to accommodate wheelchair lifts and accessible living quarters on the entry level. These for-sale townhomes range from $175,000 to $345,000 and are available to families earning between 60 and 100% AMI.