San Francisco’s architecture is not defined by any particular dominant architectural style. Rather, it is known as a blend of styles that reflects the diverse population, geography, and history. In the 19th century, San Francisco developed into a metropolis. Massive population growth increased the built areas for both residential and commercial units. After the 1906 earthquakes and fires, the city lost most of its historic buildings, and a massive reconstruction began. Since then, San Francisco has continued its urban development and population growth. Modern housing is being built to meet the increasing demand for accommodation. The following list includes renovated historic buildings , modern apartments, affordable housing units and apartment buildings in San Francisco that every architect must see.
1. The Wilson Building Apartments | Apartment Buildings In San Francisco
Architect: Willis Polk / Rehabilitated by Raintree Partners
Location: 973 Market Street, San Francisco, CA.
The Wilson Building was formerly an office building with a commercial ground floor. It is one of the few surviving buildings from the 1906 Great Earthquake of San Francisco but was damaged during the accompanying fire. With the restoration, the building turned into an apartment that included 67 units for ten different types of residents.
The Wilson Building is remarkable with its exuberant terra cotta facade, oversized windows and colourful ornamentation. With the historical background and central location, the Wilson building serves as luxury apartments and lofts today. Apart from the studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and attic floors, a 2,000 square meter roof deck at the top of the building is designed for users to spend time. Although the interior is a private space for tenants, The Wilson Building is one of the buildings that should stop and examine its facade and historical appearance while walking on Market Street.
Architect: David Baker Architects
Location: 588 Mission Bay Blvd, San Francisco, CA.
Five88 has been the largest affordable housing unit in San Francisco in the last decade. San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighbourhood, raised from the rubble of the 1906 earthquake, has traded 20th-century industrial development for a more holistic community. Five88 won the 2018 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Housing and Community Design Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing Design and a 2018 AIASF Architecture Merit Award + Social Responsibility Commendation.
The five-story, Cor-Ten steel-clad building marks the southern edge of a residential neighbourhood north of the park, rising above glazed ground-level retail spaces and playfully detailed concrete columns. The building’s footprint consists of two C-shaped sections – the western half with four stories of apartments over 10,000 square feet of retail space and ground-floor parking, and the eastern half with four stories of ground-floor apartments. This structure, which draws you in from the street with its courtyard designed to provide transition and create an environment for users, is one of the places to be experienced.
3. 2177 Third Street Apartments | Apartment Buildings In San Francisco
Architect: Woods Bagot Architecture
Location: Dogpatch Neighborhood, San Francisco, CA.
2177 Third Apartments is situated between a formerly industrial waterfront and busy Third Street. The most remarkable thing about this building is the large green wall that has become a local landmark. This five-storey living wall creates a breathing space in the building’s bulk. The dark bronze facade represents the area’s industrial background. The main interior courtyard for tenants provides quality time in balance with the soft temperature of the area. Layered stacks of pedestrian bridges are designed to connect two separate buildings on each floor. The massive green wall and the playfully designed facade take the passengers’ attention. 2177 Third Apartment is meeting California’s CEQA sustainability requirements and pursuing LEED Gold.
4. The Avery (Transbay Block 8)
Architect: Fougeron Architecture
Location: Transbay District, San Francisco, CA.
The Avery consists of three buildings. The two podium buildings were designed by Fougeron Architecture and one tower by OMA. The affordable housing units in the podium buildings provide an urban gesture to the neighbourhood and open the site to the public. Located among the iconic towers of San Francisco, this relatively affordable apartment attracts the attention of passers-by with its facade, where different materials are used in harmony. Opening such a site to the public is one of the nice touches of this apartment.
5. Brocklebank Apartments | Apartment Buildings In San Francisco
Architect: Week & Day
Location: Mason Street, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA.
Brocklebank Apartments is one of the historic buildings in San Francisco. Its style is known as Suave chateau. Creamy masonry details are one of the most striking things about this building. Designed in an L-shape to maximize views, this tower-like structure retracts from the corner for an invitation from the outside. This invitation leads to a landscaped porte cochere, approaching the shaded front door, which is entered through the ceremonial portal. Brocklebank shares the eastern end of the summit with two legendary hotels; The Mark Hopkins, The Huntington Apartments, and The Cathedral Apartments.
This apartment building is also famous from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo. The building was the house of Madeleine Elster, the doubly fictional character played by Kim Novak in the movie. Every year Brocklebank Apartments are visited by groups of people within the tour for the Vertigo movie.
6. The Chambord
Architect: James Francis Dunn
Location: 1298 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA.
The extraordinary appearance of Chambord distinguishes it as an architecturally significant building. It reflects the Beaux Arts influence of its time with its decorative balustrades, rich floral ornamentation, and classical columns. But it is the overlay of these architectural details with a very sculptural building form that makes the Chambord unique. Peter Booth Wiley, in the National Trust Guide/San Francisco, said this about the Chambord Apartments: “The Chambord Apartments… was originally designed by James Francis Dunn, with references to Antonio Gaudi and Beaux-Arts styles.” (Wiley, 2000).
In the early ’80s, the Chambord was restored. San Francisco Architect Cathy Simon used Dunn’s original scheme and emulated detailing from other Dunn buildings to produce a Chambord as the original. The apartments are small, with oval living rooms, balconies, and fine woodwork. Last sold for $2,740,000 in 1993.
7. Edwin M. Lee Apartments
Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMS)
Location: 1150 3rd St, San Francisco, CA.
The building is located on the site of a former industrial area, which used to be a marsh. The entire structure and infrastructure of the new Mission Bay neighbourhood are new, replacing the former rail yards. During construction, some elements were discovered on site that were incorporated into the design: Existing cobblestones were used for the base of storm drains, and historic granite curbs were incorporated as informal steps in the landscaped courtyard. Reclaimed wood was also used for seating in the lobby and courtyard. This affordable housing project provides 62 apartments for formerly homeless veterans and 57 apartments for low-income families with first-floor services for families, veterans, neighbours, and the greater community.
The GreenPoints Rated Platinum certified project features numerous photovoltaic and solar hot water systems that reduce operating costs and provide sustainable energy. Biophilic design principles were considered in the selection of materials and construction. Durable materials and thoughtful details are designed to reduce long-term operating and maintenance costs. Edwin M. Lee Apartments is a building that also draws attention with its sustainability plans.
8. Richardson Apartments | Apartment Buildings In San Francisco
Architect: David Baker Architects
Location: 365 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA.
Richardson Apartments has 120 permanent, supportive residential studio units for adult residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. An open grand staircase connecting the first to fifth-floor levels reduces reliance on elevators and promotes interaction among residents. Beyond the lobby, a large existing mural of dancers on the side of the Performing Arts garage is framed by the south-facing courtyard. Four levels of fully equipped studio apartments surround the private landscaped courtyard and sit atop neighbourhood-serving retail. The green roof provides urban agriculture and open space for residents, and active solar electricity and hot water collection are featured on the roof.
Although the building is mostly private for the tenants, the story behind the design decisions makes the building unique and a place to experience.
9. 603 Tennessee Apartments
Architect: Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects
Location: 603 Tennessee St, San Francisco, CA.
603 Tennessee apartments have 24 units. It draws attention with its overlapping box image on the central street. This moving and grid facade is designed as a reference to the grid arrangement of San Francisco. The dynamic design of the façade, with its different use of traditional materials, attracts the attention of passers-by. This structure, which can be considered a luxury apartment, has an area whose roof is arranged for users to spend time, as in many San Francisco apartments. Unlike ordinary apartment buildings, the circulation areas are designed as half-open bridge corridors to be suitable for the San Francisco climate. This building, which draws attention with its façade, is an apartment worth visiting in terms of planning.
10. MIRA Twisting Tower | Apartment Buildings In San Francisco
Architect: Studio Gang
Location: Mission Bay neighbourhood, San Francisco, CA.
“Reinterpreting the classic bay windows of San Francisco, our design amplifies the dynamic quality of the neighbourhood,” said Gang in a project statement. “Spiraling all the way up this 400-foot tower, bay windows create unique spaces in every residence that offer fresh air, expansive views, and changing qualities of light throughout the day.” Twisting Tower was presented as a solution to the housing need in San Francisco. One of the great principles in design was to ensure energy efficiency. Considering this during the construction phase, the footprint is kept low, and the design includes a green roof, solar panels, grey water harvesting systems, and energy-efficient fixtures. As a result of this concern, it has LEED Gold certification.
MIRA tower, which is shown as one of the new iconic buildings of San Francisco, is one of the apartments worth seeing.
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