2012 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments | Notes of Interest

In the heart of San Francisco, this mixed-use SRO building provides 120 permanent, supportive studio apartments for very-low-income formerly homeless residents, many with mental and physical disabilities. The five-story sustainable infill development remediates the site of a collapsed freeway with green homes, street improvements and neighborhood-serving retail.

The design balances independence and security. The ground level includes a monitored “air-lock” lobby, property management, medical clinic and counseling suite, courtyard, lounge, program rooms, and kitchen and laundry facilities. These day-lit spaces are visually accessible throughout, creating a layered transparency and sense of depth and openness. Each unit has basic designer furnishings, a private bathroom and kitchenette, and an in-house phone to call other residents and the front desk. All units are close to the 300sf average to preserve feelings of equity. The courtyard, second-level deck, and roof garden provide social opportunities and address community concerns about sidewalk loitering.

Units are reserved for chronically homeless residents with incomes at or below 50% AMI. The maximum income is $34,800 per year, with 42 units reserved for below $18,825. Residents pay 30% of income as rent, creating a monthly rental scale ranging from $0 to $870.

The goal was to maximize a tight site to meet program needs and create gracious homes and community spaces. Reserving big moves for prominent areas streamlined construction. Focusing on the natural beauty of materials—zinc, board-form concrete, and salvaged wood—and concentrating budget on the iconic corner, entry, and shared spaces created a building with a strong identity and sense of place. At 276 units per acre, the dense development had a high open-space requirement, which was realized by complementing the courtyard with a roof deck incorporating a living roof, urban agriculture, and gathering spaces. The building incorporates extensive security measures yet conveys the impression of transparency and spaciousness through high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling street windows, open common rooms and corridors, and layers of glass panels. Designed with long-term durability in mind, the building currently rates 143 GreenPoints and surpasses California’s strict energy standards by 15%.

Additional Credit

  • Associate Architect: Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture; Baker Vilar Architects; Design Studios Gonzalo Castro
  • Clinic/Health Services: UCSF Citywide Case Management Program San Francisco Department of Public Health Toolworks
  • Engineer: American Hydrotech, Inc.; Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc.; Sandis Civil Engineers Surveyors Planners; Structural Design Engineers; Sun Light & Power; Teletech Security; Tommy Siu & Associates
  • General Contractor: Cahill Contractors, Inc.
  • Interior Design and Furnishings: Concreteworks; David Baker + Partners, Architects; Evelyn Reyes/Creativity Explored; Fee Munson Ebert Architecture + Design; Green Waste Recycle Yard/Custom Metal Manufacturing; Market Design Furniture; OHIO Design; Pacassa Studios
  • Mural: "Dancing in the curve of the World" by Josef Norris
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Photo Credit

  • © Bruce Damonte Photography, Inc.

Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments

Category Three: Multifamily Housing

Jury Comments

Fabulous project. Impressed with its scale, it’s contemporary and uses a modern language that fits in very well. The entry level is warm, welcoming, and not cold. The view from the courtyard is beautifully framed. Love this building! It is exquisite. The varying facades incorporate the streetscape.

It’s deserving of an award – it is interesting that San Francisco has a strong record of making a commitment to housing and housing that anyone would want to live in. This building reflects and builds on that local tradition.

2012 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Sandra A. LaFontaine, AIA, Chair
  • LaFontaine Architecture and Design
  • Worthington, Ohio
  • Allison Arieff
  • New York Times
  • San Francisco
  • Sara E. Caples, AIA
  • Caples Jefferson Architects
  • New York City
  • Jerome King, FAIA
  • The Office of Jerome King
  • San Jose, Calif.
  • Bill Moore, AIA
  • Sprocket Design Build, Inc.
  • Denver

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