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.

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 infill development takes a major step toward mending the rift in the urban grid created by the earthquake-collapsed freeway. The decision to eliminate the required 128 parking spaces—based on a realistic evaluation of parking needs of a homeless population—maintained the perimeter and site for retail and social spaces, including the at-grade courtyard with in-ground trees, and preserved public sightlines to an existing mural. In the prominent retail corner, a social-venture bakery will make training and jobs available to tenants and disabled neighborhood residents. Additional retail spaces connect the building to the busy neighborhood retail corridor. Well-lit sidewalks, permeable paving, street plantings, and bicycle racks make for a safe and active addition to the streetscape. Providing permanent, supportive housing has proved to be more cost-effective longterm than the police and hospital interventions generated by a chronically homeless population.

The goal was to maximize a tight site to meet program needs and create gracious homes and community spaces. 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 Firm: 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

Photo Credit

  • © Bruce Damonte Photography, Inc.

Drs. Julian & Raye Richardson Apartments

Category One: Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award

Jury Comments

Large-scale development with adaptive reuse. This is a model example within field development done well with integrative design and materials.
If we wanted to identify a model this project would be it. The site is rewarding to the residents of the building and the residents are invited to take advantage of everything this has to offer. The way the building responds to the neighborhood at large is very complementary. Everything relates well to each other. This design celebrates the site by using a number of elements including color, exposed materials, attention to the open areas, and placement of furniture.

It looks great, we can’t deny why we’re attracted to it – it’s outstanding. It’s really one of the most interesting formal projects that we saw. The sustainable strategies have been thoroughly integrated to the point that they are almost invisible. It’s so well integrated that it adds to its beauty.

2012 AIA/HUD Secretary's Awards Jury

  • Sandra A. LaFontaine, AIA, Chair
  • LaFontaine Architecture and Design
  • Worthington, Ohio
  • Allison Arieff
  • New York Times
  • San Francisco
  • Luis Borray, Assoc. AIA
  • U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Sara E. Caples, AIA
  • Caples Jefferson Architects
  • New York City
  • Regina C. Gray, PhD
  • U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Jerome King, FAIA
  • The Office of Jerome King
  • San Jose, California
  • Bill Moore, AIA
  • Sprocket Design Build, Inc.
  • Denver

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