david baker + partners, architects, san francisco Architect David Baker isn't afraid to use color—especially in the affordable projects that he champions—but he knows from experience that bright hues can elicit all kinds of responses. Fortunately, neighbors and merchants in the vicinity of Soma Studios and 8th + Howard Apartments loved the colors his firm used on an earlier building around the corner. “When we mentioned that project they said, ‘Oh, we love the colors. We want brighter colors,'” Baker recounts. The architect gave them what they wanted: A vibrant yellow, blue, and green geometric mural pops out at the urban landscape along 8th Street, giving the project its own distinct identity and energy.

In addition to 74 one- to three-bedroom apartments and 88 studios (some renting for as little as $580 a month), residents of this five-story project got a museum-worthy entry gate, semi-public courtyards, a day-care center, 19,000 square feet of retail, a garage with space for car-share pods, six community rooms, and access to bike lanes and public transportation. Indeed, said one judge, “the parts are brilliant ... there is much to like about it.”

principal in charge / project architect: David Baker, FAIA, David Baker + Partners, Architects
developer: Scott Falcone, Citizens Housing Corp., San Francisco
general contractor: Jim Farmer, Cahill Contractors, San Francisco
landscape architect: Adrienne Wong, Adrienne Wong Associates, San Francisco
interior designer: Michelle Peckham, David Baker + Partners, Architects
project size: 176,874 square feet
site size: 4.06 acres
construction cost: $135 per square foot
rental price: $580 to $1,380 per month
units in project: 162
photographer: Cesar Rubio, except where noted