pyatok associates, oakland

The judges applauded Pyatok Associates' straightforward approach to the challenging site of Gateway Commons. This 17-unit affordable community sits on the border between the cities of Emeryville and Oakland, Calif., and on top of a county-owned underground creek. "We weren't allowed to build on the county's land," says Michael Pyatok, FAIA. "That's why there's a break in the middle of the project."

Before starting design, Pyatok held a series of workshops with the community's future residents, low- and moderate-income buyers who already lived in the neighborhood. He supplied them with three-dimensional modeling kits and asked them to experiment with different densities and configurations. The workshops revealed that the families involved with the project wanted opportunities for home-based businesses and rental income. So, in the final design, the 10 street-facing units contain a potential live/work space, and the seven across the auto court have a ground-floor bedroom that can be rented out.

project architect: Curtis Caton, Pyatok Associates
land planner: Larry Taylor, Community Development Corporation of Oakland, Oakland
developer: Antonio Bryant, Oakland Community Housing, Oakland
general contractor: Mohammad Hakimi, J.H. Fitzmaurice, Oakland
landscape architect: Rich Seyfarth, Berkeley, Calif.
project size: 1,700 to 2,000 square feet per unit
site size: 0.6 acre
construction cost: $105 per square foot
sales price: $135,000 to $199,000 per unit
units in project: 17
photographer: Michael Pyatok, FAIA