Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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wHY reveals new renderings for San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum

wHY has unveiled new renderings for a $90 million expansion and renovation to the City of San Francisco–owned Asian Art Museum (AAM). The renderings shed light on how designs for the expansion will integrate into the institution's existing Beaux Arts–era building. The renderings depict the museum’s new two-story addition, which consists of an art pavilion capped by a rooftop art terrace. The 13,000-square-foot space will fill in an existing loading dock area attached to the structure, which was originally designed in 1917 by George A. Kelham as the city’s main library. The 7,200-square-foot art terrace will contain large-scale art objects and will overlook San Francisco’s Hyde Street. The 6,800-square-foot continuous gallery pavilion located below is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in terms of the art that can be displayed by AAM, representing an attempt by the architects and curators to boost the number of temporary and traveling exhibitions that the museum can hold. The continuous gallery design will allow the museum to stage larger, more contemporary works of art. The addition will also include a new all-ages visual educational center that can accommodate up to 75 people at a time. Jay Xu, director and CEO of AAM said in a statement, “The goal of the transformation is to tell the vital story of Asian art, from prehistory to the present, as an evolving, globally relevant tradition.” Xu added, “Museum visitors will discover fresh connections between Asian art and the world around them, engaging with the topics and issues that inspire artists working today.” The project was approved earlier this year by the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission under a different design that utilized criss-crossing aluminum bands as exterior cladding. In the most recent designs, that system has been replaced with rusticated, buff-colored terra-cotta panel cladding. According to the renderings, the updated cladding work complements the existing building’s material palette rather than contrasting with its finishes. AAM is also embarking on a gallery modernization project as part of the renovations, and will add new digital and interpretive features to displays surrounding 15 of the museum’s collected works. The new measures will allow for customizable visitor experiences that include multilingual didactic material and location-based immersive content delivered via tablet. The pavilion is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2019.
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Synthesis Design + Architecture translates data into an expressive, CNC-milled wall for IBM Watson

Los Angeles–based Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) recently completed work on a 1,100-square-foot sheath for the IBM Watson Experience Center immersion room in San Francisco. The interpretive wrapper—fabricated by Arktura in Los Angeles and executed in conjunction with an overall interior design by Gensler’s San Francisco office—is designed to express data visualizations generated by IBM Watson’s computing powers while also concealing the 350-square-foot sales space from view.

For the project, the design team interpreted and translated data maps depicting the volume of digital sales on mobile devices between 2013 and 2015 in order to derive an expressive moiré-patterned cocoon made out of dual-layered, curvilinear CNC-milled aluminum plates. The plates, backed by bright white lights, can be read by Watson Center docents in order to express a so-called “data narrative” in which Big Data—data sets so complex or vast that conventional data processing can’t process them—plays the titular role charting the growing influence of mobile-based sales.

Describing the project, Alvin Huang, principal at SDA, said, “The kinetic moiré effect that is produced as visitors move around the immersion room breathes some life into the static pattern, which speaks to the fact that data is live and constantly changing—even though the installation itself is static.” IBM Watson Experience Center 505 Howard Street San Francisco Tel: (800) 426-4968 Architects: Synthesis Design + Architecture; Gensler

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This San Francisco development will turn a working subway vent into a public sculpture

A forthcoming mixed-use affordable housing development by David Baker Architects (DBA), Kennerly Architecture and Planning, and CMG Landscape Architecture (all San Francisco–based firms) aims to bring 579 new units to a complicated site in San Francisco’s South of Market district. The 500,000-square-foot project—known as 1629 Market—is being master planned by the two architecture firms to take into account a series of impediments and historic properties on the site, including an immovable ventilation shaft serving a transit line running below the site. The vent will be given a sculptural treatment by the designers: a geometric exoskeleton will highlight the vent's place at the center of a new plaza. The designers are aiming to repurpose several of the site's historic structures, as well, including the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Civic Center Hotel and a historic commercial building. The development will bring a mix of market rate and affordable homes, replace facilities for the Local 38 Plumbers Union Hall, and add a new public park to the bustling area in addition to the historic renovations. The development will ultimately come with 20,000 square feet of public open spaces that include the aforementioned central plaza as well as a series of pedestrian passageways that cut through the site. The plaza areas will be located at the heart of the site and are to be surrounded by a mix of storefronts and residential entrances. Renderings depict a terraced square populated by amorphous planters, the sculptural vent, a play structure, and other recreational components. The space is overlooked by apartments on all sides with commercial storefronts wrapping one edge of the plaza along Brady Street. The storefronts—13,000 square feet of retail uses, total—will wrap the outer edge of the entire complex along Market and 12th Streets, as well, allowing for the block’s interior streets to harbor a more residential atmosphere. These interior streets—“mid-block mews,” in the designers’ parlance—are designed as publically-accessible pedestrian paths accessible to unit entrances and shared residential amenities. Renderings for these spaces depict broad, tree-lined walkways overlooked by apartment windows. DBA Principal-in-Charge Daniel Simons told The Architect’s Newspaper that a major design consideration for the ground floor walkways was to embed multiple uses among the various routes, an arrangement that will allow for constant and diverse occupation.   The project will relocate 100 affordable units from the existing SRO into a new building being developed as a part of the project. The so-called 53 Colton housing block will be managed by Community Housing Partnership and is being designed by DBA. The building will flank the southern edge of the plaza and will feature metal panel cladding, punched openings, and a zig-zagging facade. DBA’s other buildings on the site also feature similar contemporary massing and will come clad in fiber cement board, plaster, and extruded metal rainscreens, among other treatments. Kennerly is responsible for the design of the so-called Brady 1 building, a 188-unit structure opposite 53 Colton that will incorporate and expand a historic, single-story commercial structure fronting Market Street. The Brady 1 structure, according to renderings, features alternating protrusions wrapped in vertical louvres along Market while also wrapping the corner to flank the Brady plaza within the site. A portion of this structure features rounded corners and is raised above the plaza on a large scale Y-column. The project is currently undergoing design review and is expected to complete the entitlement process this fall.  
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Millennium Tower sinks another inch but there could be a fix

The Millennium Tower in San Francisco has sunk another inch in the past seven months, but on the brighter side, engineers have found a potential fix, according to SFGate.

The residential tower has been plagued with issues since last year when news got out that it had sunk 16 inches since its opening in 2008 (make it 17 now). It’s not just sinking, either—the tower is settling unevenly and leaning more towards the northern side in a 14-inch tilt from the building’s roof.

Millennium Partners, the developers behind the Handel Architects–designed building, hired a team of engineers, who believe they have a solution that will prop the tower back up. According to LERA and DeSimone Consulting Engineers, drilling 50 to 100 new piles down to bedrock from the building’s basement will rectify the problem. This fix could cost up to $150 million.

The building’s million-dollar apartments have attracted big-name buyers, including San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. But when it was revealed that the tower had sunk more than its predicted six inches, residents filed individual lawsuits. The tower’s homeowners association (HOA) also filed a case against both Millennium Partners and Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the firm behind the adjacent Transbay Transit Center.

The gravity of the situation is increasing as a new report by Arup, which has conducted previous reports on the tower, reveals that the rate of sinking remains constant with no sign of let up. “This accelerated movement highlights the need to retrofit the foundation as soon as possible,” Daniel Petrocelli, who is the lead attorney against the developer, said in a statement in NBC Bay Area.

A statement released by the developers in response to the report continued to pin the blame on construction of nearby developments, which they claim destabilize the soil under the tower. “We are hopeful that the HOA will take steps to protect the building from further harm from adjacent construction at the Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower projects,” the statement read. “Our top priority has always been getting to a fix.”

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Prominent San Francisco YIMBY advocate Sonja Trauss is running for office

Prominent San Francisco pro-housing advocate Sonja Trauss has announced her candidacy for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, 6th District seat. The 6th District—currently represented by Jane Kim, who cannot run for reelection due to term limits—encompasses the booming South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods as well as the Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island settlements. Trauss is a well-known housing advocate who has become increasingly prominent on a national level as the head of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SFBARF), a pro-development, pro-housing group that advocates for increased housing production in San Francisco and its environs. As a result of advocacy efforts with SFBARF, Trauss has become a leader of the Bay Area’s nascent “YIMBY” (Yes In My Backyard) movement, a loose coalition of housing advocates seeking to promote increased development of varied housing types, from supportive and deed-restricted affordable housing to market-rate apartments and even luxury-oriented condominiums. The growing coalition is unified by a general belief that broadly-based and diverse housing production is one of the necessary requirements for general urban affordability. These groups promote the concept of “filtering,” housing jargon for the phenomenon by which new market-rate housing is gradually transformed into more affordable housing stock as it ages and is replaced by newer units with each successive economic cycle. Most moderate- to low-income renters, according to the premise, live in housing that was originally developed at market-rate, so limiting market-rate housing production today simply imposes a constraint on affordable housing supply further down the line while building more of can boost future supplies of affordable housing stock. The concept has its flaws, namely that the process it supports is a generational one that does not directly address contemporary affordability concerns or stop ongoing displacement phenomena. There are also concerns regarding whether “filtering” applies to luxury units, which existing communities fight against based on the belief that the production of this type of housing increases rents outright. The transition from single-issue advocate to politician (if she wins the seat) will be a welcome challenge for Trauss, who told The Architect's Newspaper (AN), “The job of Supervisor is so different from that of an issue advocate—When you’re supervisor, the only thing your constituents have in common is geography.” Trauss characterized District 6 as one of the few areas of San Francisco that has actually built new housing in adequate numbers over recent years. As a neighborhood adjacent to highways, formerly occupied by manufacturing and industry, and now full of new residents, South of Market in particular needs “wider sidewalks and calmer traffic” to ensure safety for the area’s new residents, according to Trauss. Trauss is also hoping to push the Board of Supervisors to act to alleviate homelessness in the area and is looking forward to making sure existing residents of the district’s Treasure Island area “are well taken care of” as that neighborhood prepares for the implementation of a new master plan and redevelopment scheme developed by SOM and Perkins+Will. Trauss also hopes to serve the district’s homeless population by working to fund more new supportive housing developments. She said, “Supportive housing is the thing that solves the problem for the individual on a personal basis, we need more of it. I will try to get supportive housing built in other neighborhoods, as well.” And what will become of SFBARF? It will go on, according to Trauss, who explained that the remaining team members will continue to advocate for new housing across the region and that her current position with the group will simply be filled by someone else. She said, “all the other people working on [SFBARF] are talented and dedicated, they don’t really need me."
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New details emerge for major plan to urbanize San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Despite being recently rebuffed as the potential site for the forthcoming MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, San Francisco officials are moving ahead with plans to expand the city's sleepy Treasure Island district into a lively residential enclave and tourist destination. The city recently revealed plans to add a bevy of cultural institutions and up to 20,000 residents to the man-made island, which sits in the San Francisco Bay halfway between San Francisco and Oakland. The San Francisco Arts Commission has developed an arts-focused master plan for the island in conjunction with urban and architectural master plans developed by SOM and Perkins + Will The plans, overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Arts Commission, would see the island's public offerings expanded, beginning with a new series of public art installations. Eventually, the island—which is accessible only via its connection to Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge—could add up to 8,500 new residential units and 550,000 square feet of commercial space. The island’s art program will be pursued using a projected $50 million fund generated by contributions made toward the city’s 1% for Art in Private Development fund as a result of the new development. According to a planning document released by the development authority, in the case of Treasure Island, the 1% for Art in Private Development funds will be applied toward the installation of public artworks on public lands. Generally speaking, the Treasure Island master plan, which includes the adjacent Yerba Buena Island in its scope, calls for leaving some 75% of the available land area free of development, with the remainder being plotted out as relatively dense mixed-use neighborhoods. The plan would focus on multi-modal complete streets designs in order to create a “network of parks and streets… [with] sunny, sheltered public space that is enlivened by artwork, buildings of enduring interest and active ground floor uses” while also reducing the island’s dependence on automobile traffic. The plan, according to the documents, would cluster development along the southern and western edges of the roughly rectangular island in a series of perimeter block formations. The project was selected in 2009 as one of 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Program, part of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative grants supporting “climate positive” urban developments. For more information on the project, see the Treasure Island Development Authority website. The full plan is available here.
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Fougeron Architecture uses an unusual rainscreen and sculptural stairs to enliven multifamily housing

400 Grove—a formerly vacant parcel that is now a 34-unit market-rate development by Fougeron Architects in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley—boasts a facade on Gough Street articulated by exaggerated bays along its uppermost floors, and pierced by a zigzagging, five-story-tall opening. The floors closer to the street feature opposing geometries with expanses of glass storefront on the ground-level retail spaces. The scissoring facades are clad in a rainscreen made out of deeply stained wooden dowels—a repetitive, vertically oriented hatch that softens the building’s sharper angles. The third floor is set back and rectilinear in comparison to those above, occupying the variable spaces underneath the overhanging floors.

The interruption in the Gough Street facade leads to an interior courtyard that contains private and shared outdoor spaces and circulation cores. The dowels make an appearance here as well as guardrails for the stairwells. The designers chose to sink the building’s parking garage five feet below grade, allowing for the courtyard to be slightly elevated above the street but not so high that it is inaccessible. The courtyard is visually connected to the commercial spaces via a large window and is populated by water-wise plants—Marta Fry Landscape Associates served as the landscape architect for the project.

Studios and one- and two-bedroom units are organized around the courtyard. Instead of wrapping the courtyard in overhanging single-loaded corridors, which would force living room windows to face onto the walkway as is typical, the architect repositioned the circulation to allow for the units along the north end of the building to be accessed via a pair of bridges that lead to shared-entry landings. Anne Fougeron, principal of Fougeron Architecture, said, “We wanted to put the open space in the middle of the site instead of along one side.”

Units along the southern wing of the building are organized so that one enters into the kitchen from the corridor, with living room spaces located along the southern facade overlooking the street. As a result, almost all of the apartments feature two exterior exposures. Fougeron added that the “facade echoes bay windows in a new way by interlacing their geometries in and out at different cadences” so as to “paginate the building so that it doesn’t read as a five-story building.”

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SFHAC says, “Every neighborhood, every city should provide its fair share of housing.”

California—and the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular—is currently suffering from a prolonged and devastating housing affordability crisis. Housing construction over the last decade has been anemic, relative to previous decades, at a time when the state’s population and economy are both booming.   The San Francisco Housing Alliance Coalition (SFHAC) formed back in 1999 during the first dot-com boom to advocate for inclusive housing policies for the city of San Francisco and has played a significant role as an advocacy group across the region in the decades since. In advance of the organization’s Spring Symposium, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) spoke with Rob Poole, Development and Communications Manager at SFHAC, to discuss the organization’s recent initiatives, goals and the group’s efforts to help address the housing crisis. For more information on the Spring Symposium, see the SFHAC website. AN: Can you explain a bit about SFHAC’s short-term housing goals for the region? What are a few of the projects or initiatives you are working on getting approved over the next few months or years? Rob Poole: I’ll break this up into short-term versus long-term goals, and local versus regional. At the present moment in San Francisco, we’re in the final stages of passing a program called HOME-SF, the city’s first major tool targeted at creating homes for San Francisco’s middle-class, which has been underserved by the city’s housing policies. Under HOME-SF, developers who build in certain parts of the city (primarily outside of area plans and RH-1 neighborhoods), would have the option to build denser buildings and add two extra stories in exchange for providing a higher percentage of subsidized housing targeted at moderate-and middle-income residents. This program has been in the works for about three years and should finally get passed this month. In addition, the city is about to adopt a new inclusionary ordinance, once again. The most recent requirement was decided upon by the voters and was—frankly—an arbitrary number, 25%. We’re pushing for a data-drive policy, which I’ll touch on later. Both of these measures have taken up a lot of our time. For the more long-term, we consistently search for ways to improve the process for creating housing in San Francisco. The city is known for having an enormously complex and lengthy approval process. We’d like to see more certainty and remove some of the risk for building in a place with a chronic housing shortage. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also know as “in-law” homes, are another priority. A couple of state bills were passed last year—AB 2299 and SB 1069—that remove some of the costs for building or home owners to add these. We want to ensure San Francisco is in compliance with the new laws. Stepping outside of our sandbox, SFHAC staff has regularly attended and organized residents to speak at Brisbane City Council hearings in regards to a project called Brisbane Baylands, which borders the southern part of San Francisco. The developer has plans to build a mixed-use project with over 4,400 homes, but the City has pushed for a plan with zero housing because that’s what the most vocal residents down there want. That’s frankly unacceptable and emblematic of the struggles the region faces around local governance. The site is essentially 680 acres of dirt and is adjacent to a Caltrain station. What happens there impacts the entire region as much as it does Brisbane, yet the City Council only has to listen to their voters in a town of about 4,200 people. We’re trying to influence the outcome by showing the City Council their decisions have impacts that extend far beyond their town’s borders. Finally, the conversation around has housing has picked up a lot in Sacramento, which influenced the theme of our Spring Symposium on May 23rd. There are over 130 bills pending in the legislature that address how homes are funded, planned for and approved. SFHAC has taken positions on several of these measures, including SB 35, AB 71, AB 73, AB 915 and SB 167 and AB 678. We give our members the opportunity to weigh in on these bills and stay informed as they work their way through the approval process. We should know what happens with all these by the fall. This is new territory for SFHAC, but it’s likely to only grow in relevance. We cannot expect to solve this problem by allowing cities and suburbs to make land-use decisions independently of one another. Are there target neighborhoods or corridors your organization is seeking to specifically add housing to? Housing should be located where those residents are more likely to walk, bike and take transit to get around. Our land-use decisions must reduce vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) via private automobile use. Otherwise, we will not achieve our environmental goals at the local, regional or state levels. That mindset drives our advocacy. This also falls into an issue we like to call “density equity.” In San Francisco, about 80 percent of the development happens on 20 percent of the land. Most new housing gets built along the eastern and southeastern half of the city while the west side hardly adds any homes. There are a couple reasons for that. Over the past 20 years, the city has spent a lot of effort rezoning neighborhoods, via the Better Neighborhoods Plan, where the land historically had industrial use or been underutilized. As the economy changed, many of the uses became less relevant and it made sense to rezone them for housing. This has primarily been done along the eastern side of the city. The west side is a different story. These neighborhoods are primarily zoned for single-family homes, except along some the transit and commercial corridors. Historically, there’s been a lot of opposition to any kind of change towards the built environment, which makes it difficult to build housing there. SFHAC believes these neighborhoods need to step up and provide their fair share of homes. We acknowledge it doesn’t make sense to build towers out there because the transit isn’t as sufficient, but it’s not fair nor good planning to allow one side of the city to stay frozen in time while the other half takes on all the new housing. HOME-SF will help move the needle. At the regional level, there are so many municipalities that simply don’t contribute. Brisbane is just one example. But there are numerous cases where organized opposition will use every tool at their disposal, be it California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) appeals, lawsuits or just turning out people to public hearings, to influence outcomes. As a result, housing is built further away from jobs where there are less people to oppose it. The recent report from the California Department of Finance reaffirms this trend. There aren’t any incentives or penalties for cities that don’t do their part. Some of the state bills, such as SB 35, would change this. There’s been lots of talk lately regarding inclusionary zoning requirements—current requirements are too high, don’t go far enough; inclusionary zoning actually dampens market-rate housing production—what is SFHAC’s position on inclusionary zoning? Inclusionary housing is a smart tool to provide homes for low-income residents, especially in expensive markets. SFHAC was at the table in 2002 with then-Supervisor Mark Leno when we crafted San Francisco’s first mandatory inclusionary ordinance. Since then, the program has resulted in over 4,600 below-market-rate homes (BMR), for both rental and ownership. Those are homes for people who otherwise may have been priced out of the city. On the flip side, that doesn’t come remotely close to meeting the need. For example, there was a recent project along Market Street that had 144 applicants for every one BMR. Some think the solution is to make the requirement higher, based on the idea that developers make so much money and market-rate homes will never be affordable to anyone besides the rich. We reject that notion. Inclusionary zoning policies should be data-driven so they do not restrict supply of market-rate housing, because that is tomorrow’s middle-class housing. Last June, San Francisco voters passed a measure that more than doubled the inclusionary requirements, from 12 to 25-percent on-site. There was no study to support whether this was financially feasible. Since then, applications for new projects have dropped significantly. So what will probably happen in the long run is we’ll see less homes get built than may have had we not changed the requirement, which will drive up the price of market-rate homes. That’s scary to imagine considering how expensive it is already. Keep in mind, the subsidy that makes BMRs affordable comes from the rents of the market-rate units. That means if the requirement is set too high, only the most luxurious projects are likely to get built, because those are the ones that pencil out. It’s the smaller projects and the developers with less money that get cut out from the process. As a result, we remove any possibility of building naturally affordable housing (a concept known as “filtering”). To put an end to my long-winded answer…I want to reiterate that SFHAC supports inclusionary zoning. It is one tool in the toolbox. But cities should not rely on it as the end-all, be-all solution for housing. It does not scale to the severity of the problem. And unless Congress decides to quintuple the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget, we will not be able to subsidize our way of the problem. Planners, politicians, developers and architects will have to accept that they’ll need to get much more creative with how they approach housing in the open market. I know that’s not the most popular idea politically, but I don’t see how else we can change course given the lack of support from the federal and state government. Do you have anything else to add? Yes. I think we’re at the beginning stages of a new era in regards to how the general public perceives this issue, at least in the more urban parts of California. People are starting to understand that the status quo does not work. Now, instead of the loud Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) voice that local elected officials are used to hearing, they’re listening to the Yes-In-My-Backyard (YIMBY) voices. This is a political movement. We’re starting from a tough place, however. The policies we’ve adopted over the past several decades promote sprawl, aren’t friendly to newcomers and still result in economic and racial exclusion. This will not change unless there are organized, thoughtful and influential groups working to shift the tide. At SFHAC, we bring all the parties together—the private sector, city staff, politicians, YIMBYs and even those who don’t agree with us (at least if we’re able to)—to form pro-housing solutions that result in choices for people of all income levels. It took many years to get us into this hole we’re in today and it will take a long time to climb our way out. But given some of the recent decisions that have been made here in San Francisco and even at the ballot in Los Angeles, as well as the political energy in Sacramento, I think we’re on our way there.  
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O+A crafts an unexpectedly modern workplace for a finance company

“Finance” usually conjures images of staid blue suits, brass plaques, and hallways lined with nondescript carpet. But when wealth-management firm Cambridge Associates moved from Menlo Park, California, to San Francisco, Amy Callahan, the firm’s managing director of operations, sought out San Francisco–based design studio O+A to “push the limits of a traditional workplace.”

O+A design studio director Mindi Weichman spearheaded the project, helping Cambridge Associates select a stripped-bare circular space with wide-sweeping views of San Francisco. “The footprint was definitely challenging,” she said. “At first, they thought they wanted private offices for all the principals and senior associates, with everyone else in an open space. But the initial planning for this showed that the perimeter would become very inefficient. We suggested workstations with large barriers so that there would be secluded zones and privacy, but no wasted space.”

From there, open desks custom designed by Knoll were provided for the rest of the employees, and other spaces were created for varying levels of privacy—from the self-explanatory conference and quiet rooms, to the library (communal, but not social) and then the kitchen area, which serves as a place to hang out and have informal gatherings.

This design strategy required toeing the line between traditional and modern office typologies. For example, keeping the concrete floors “took a bit of convincing,” Weichman said, but it created a harmonious interplay with more classic components. “[Cambridge Associates] wanted to tell a story of permanence and timelessness—and just as steel and glass serve as symbols for those values in architecture, they also convey cost and quality in the professional world.” Walnut was used extensively throughout, lending old-school warmth to the space, and a limestone wall in the reception area is polished, but not traditional.

While these client-facing areas remain conservative, with a neutral color palette of burgundy, navy, and olive, components such as a sculptural horsehair fixture by Apparatus and tessellated walnut walls in the conference rooms keep things interesting. Local art consultant Laura Grigsby contributed architectural, abstract paintings, and photographs for additional texture and color.

Employee-only areas are more playful. In the kitchen, the ceiling is peeled back to display the building’s infrastructure—just a dash of industrial aesthetic. “They wanted to show that they have an edgy side, but in a more refined way,” said Weichman. “The design is relative to whatever is happening to the space—the kitchen is a casual, louder, and more entertaining space versus the conference room, where things are clean and more buttoned up.” In the hallway, a string of weighted pendulum lights by Roll & Hill also add levity. “They can be moved, but I think the employees are scared to touch them,” laughed Weichman.

Ultimately, O+A presents a fresh approach to the now-ubiquitous open-office model replete with “standard start-up amenities.” Though there is a distinct lack of Ping-Pong tables and kegerators, the main pillars of the modern workplace—flexible seating, natural light, opportunities for socialization and relaxation—are thoughtfully well executed.

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You can help choose the graphics for California’s new Caltrain fleet

Against the odds of the current political moment, California is moving ahead with plans to electrify its Caltrain commuter train system in the northern part of the state. The organization in charge of the upgrades needs help choosing graphics for the new fleet of electric trains. Caltrain, a regional commuter rail serving San Francisco and its environs, has seen daily ridership double to 65,000 since 2005, according to a project website. The transit authority is aiming to transition from its current fleet of diesel-fueled locomotives to next-generation Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains that not only run on electric power, but are propelled along their length, instead of pushed or pulled like traditional trains. The all-car propulsion technology has been shown to shorten overall trip times, a byproduct of the smoother acceleration and stopping capabilities possible when each car is independently-propelled. The electrification of the Caltrain system will also help lay the groundwork for California’s beleaguered and over-budget high-speed rail line (HSR). The multi-phase HSR network is still on-track for the 2025 debut of the Silicon Valley to the Central Valley line and will also run on electricity. Converting the Caltrain system to electrical power now is a basic requirement for the high-speed rail line’s later operation. Like the HSR itself, the effort to electrify the Caltrain system, however, will not be cheap: Cost estimates for the upgrades are currently estimated to bet roughly $1.3 billion, a large chunk of which will need to come from the now-recalcitrant federal government. President Trump’s budget proposal left funding for the improvements unmet, along with several other major mass transit infrastructure projects across the country like Los Angeles’s Purple Line and New York City’s 2nd Avenue Subway extensions. A recently-released congressional draft budget proposal, however, allocated some $100 million toward the electrification project (and partial funding for the other projects, as well). Either way, Caltrain is moving ahead with purchasing 96 new train cars that would be configured into 16 six-car trainsets. The authority also has the option to purchase an additional 96 cars to be configured variously at a later date, according to a bulletin issued by Caltrain. The proposed graphics schemes envision four potential options for the fleet, all of which employ Caltrain’s signature red, white, and dark gray color schemes. The schemes, which feature a variety of striping and color blocking patterns, can be voted on at the Caltrain website. The train operator will spend the next year and a half collecting design feedback and—funding permitting—expects to debut the new trains in between 2019 and 2021.
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New 100-percent-affordable apartment complex takes root on remediated land in San Francisco

The Pacific Pointe development, designed by David Baker Architects (DBA) with Interstice Architects as associate and landscape architects, is the first 100-percent-affordable housing development in the new Hunters View area of San Francisco. The development is among the first completed projects in the new 420-acre neighborhood, a former naval shipyard that was—until recently—one of the most polluted sites in the country. After 20 years of remediation work, the enclave at the southern tip of San Francisco is now slated to receive upward of 10,000 new housing units as well as a slew of recreational and commercial programs.

The 60-unit apartment complex—developed by AMCAL Multi-Housing and Young Community Developers—is located near the center of the new environ, at the corner of Friedell Street and La Salle Avenue. The complex is organized as two interlocking L-shaped wings bridged by a two-level courtyard. The building features units ranging from one- to three-bedrooms supplemented by ground-level assembly and amenity spaces.

The five-story complex is punctuated along Friedell Street by a perforated Cor-ten steel panel–clad circulation tower that connects to a monumental stairway running through the principal courtyard. That stairway jogs across the elevated portion of the courtyard and eventually empties out onto a generous seating area with custom benches and native plantings. That elevated portion conceals play areas, building programming, and parking below, while stretching deep into the site where it is overlooked from multiple vantages by single-loaded corridors leading to unit entrances. The courtyards are articulated by generous planters framed by Cor-ten steel panels that are interrupted by jagged, stepped benches and wood platforms. Andrew Dunbar, principal at Interstice Architects said, “A fresh-air entry court is located at the lower level; above the parking, we were able to create a park-like courtyard that creates an intimate interconnecting ‘front yard’ for all the inhabitants.” The seating areas contain an unusual element: Raw 10-foot-long logs are embedded directly into the seating and stage areas. “We liked the surrealist effect of the logs as floating elements in the sea of wooden water—they speak to driftwood and offer imaginative play opportunities that recall the logging industry that once used the bay,” Dunbar explained.

The remainder of the complex is organized as a series of simple apartment blocks with several alternating sections of massing projecting beyond the main bulk of the complex. These overhanging areas create coverings for doorway stoops in certain areas and provide simple shade over windows in others. Along the stoops, the scale of the building breaks down to include more raised Cor-ten steel panel planters, modestly planted green areas, and broad stair landings designed for children to play on.

In most areas, the units are studded with flush-mounted floor-to-ceiling casement windows articulated to look double-hung. Window assemblies containing large picture windows are wrapped by planar shading devices that demarcate certain aspects of the program—namely the living areas. As is customary in much of DBA’s recent work, these shared ground-floor areas are detailed with smooth, cast-in-place concrete. The articulated portions of the building containing housing programs are variously clad in smooth, painted stucco, or horizontal siding.

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San Francisco modernizes its affordable housing lottery process

While we may live in Dickensian times, San Francisco has taken a small but important step toward humanizing the process by which qualifying individuals and families can apply to be considered for the city’s affordable housing lottery. Previously, San Francisco’s Office of Housing required would-be affordable housing dwellers to fill out hefty applications and apply in person at each specific housing development, only to watch on as numbered strips of paper were randomly picked out from a big box. The order in which numbers were selected would dictate the line of potential housing recipients. The process was cumbersome to say the least. The San Francisco Examiner reports that at a recent lottery for 60 available units in the Dalt Hotel in the city’s Tenderloin district drew 615 numbers out of several thousand applications submitted.   The carnivalesque and inhumane spectacle—San Francisco’s median rent recently fell slightly, but remains sky-high at a stunning $3,370 per month—is being replaced by the new Database of Affordable Housing Listings, Information, and Applications (DAHLIA) system. The new method was developed with help from Google and Salesforce and consists of an online portal that allows would-be residents to apply not only to multiple housing listings but also allows applicants to find out whether they have been selected via phone or computer. Barry Roeder, an official with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, told the Examiner, “the big bin has gone away. No more carnival tickets and things like that. You can, in ten minutes, apply from your smartphone to a listing that you want. It pops up and tells you what your lottery number is and sends you an email with it. Within minutes of the completion of a public lottery, enter that number in DAHLIA again and it shows you exactly what your rank was in the lottery.” The new system is currently operational for all below-market rate listings generated by private developers as part of the city’s inclusionary zoning laws. Applications for affordable units developed by non-profit housing developers should become available within the next month.