Having built over 10,000 units in the San Francisco Bay Area—6,000 of which have been affordable housing—David Baker Architects is a leader in navigating the complex public-private partnerships necessary to build affordable housing today. The San Francisco firm, founded in 1982, recently completed work on Lakeside Senior Apartments, a compact, 91-unit, .66-acre complex located on the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood.
The project adds an additional 91 domiciles to the nearly 757 affordable units built in the region in 2014, as reported by San Francisco’s Planning Department.
Designed to maintain neighbors’ vistas of the surrounding landscapes, Lakeside was constructed to house very-low-income and special-needs seniors and includes 32 units set aside to house formerly homeless seniors. Residents must be at least 55 years of age to live in the apartments and have a household annual income no higher than 50 percent of the area median income.
The housing complex, located at the corner of East 15th Street and 2nd Avenue, is organized as a grouping of two parallel masses that frame a central courtyard. The street-facing courtyard opens toward the west and is bisected by a slender perpendicular bridge that cuts across the L-shaped site, connecting the two apartment blocks. The courtyard spaces are organized as a rectilinear tapestry of grasses, Cor-ten steel, and concrete flooring, where residents can exercise and socialize.
Ground-level community programs take place within a mostly unadorned board-formed concrete plinth, with overhanging housing above. The buildings’ articulated facades are clad in perforated metal panels and stucco, as well as vertical and horizontal louvers along east and west exposures. Deeply recessed balconies overlook both street-side and interior spaces, while ground-level residences along 2nd Avenue open directly onto the street with porches. The building’s ample lobbies feature spare, exposed concrete walls and light-colored wood paneling, and the buildings’ extra-wide corridors are equipped with handrails. Laundry rooms are located on each floor, surrounded by seating areas that open into the public spaces, while the aforementioned courtyard bridge features sunny lounges where residents can rest, gather, and socialize outside of their units.
With sweeping vistas of nearby Lake Merritt, each volume’s fifth floor includes a gamut of wellness-focused rooftop community spaces, including a shared garden and a community room with kitchen. “The community garden is beautiful and actually very productive. The complex has really great breakout spaces—the courtyards and community rooms—where people can pause. That’s especially important for seniors,” principal David Baker said.