peterson + verwers, san francisco

to convert the top floor of a leased commercial building into a residence, Todd Verwers created spaces that live comfortably but could be packed up and relocated when the lease expires. “The owner wouldn't let us move existing plumbing, so service spaces had to be built around that,” he says of the only fixed elements. A freestanding soffit perforated by openings makes even permanent rooms look as if they were slipped quickly into a concrete shell and might be removed just as easily.

The tech-savvy client favors an extreme minimalist aesthetic. So Verwers took up the challenge and architecturally “went for it,” adapting commercial systems to quotidian living functions. In lieu of kitchen cabinets, Italian laboratory storage units snap onto a linear rack. A raised computer floor defines a sleeping zone. For reading light, the sleeping palette is fitted with pneumatic switches that control recessed fixtures. And the computer components in the home office, designed in a three-dimensional open armature, do double duty as a focal point: A large LED display runs artfully random patterns around the clock. “This project took on a character of its own,” says Verwers. It is, the jury agreed, “a Zen-like renovation.”

principal in charge / project architect: Todd Verwers, Peterson + Verwers
general contractor: BIC Construction, San Francisco
project size: 5,775 square feet
construction cost: $32 per square foot
photographer: Marion Brenner