With a population growing as rapidly as that in San Francisco, building sufficient housing for the influx of residents is an important, but difficult, task. The crowded neighborhoods and natural geography of the city itself poses significant challenges. Add to that the need to consider how to design a building that matches the scale and architecture of its surrounding, adds to the urban community, contains sufficient amenities for its residents, and allows for future growth. Included in this list are architects who have accepted and excelled at overcoming these challenges. You will find beautiful up-scale townhomes, skyrises with luxury condominiums, community based housing for low-income families, student housing, and everything in between. Below are 11 of the best multi-family architecture practices in San Francisco.
11) Kennerly Architecture & Planning
Website | (415) 285-2880 | Featured Principals: Owen Kennerly and Sarina Bowen Kennerly
Using their unique design perspective that combines modernism and urbanism, the award-winning firm Kennerly Architecture & Planning has designed multi-family homes in the Bay Area that pay particular attention to the ways in which people will live and work in the space, and how it relates to the larger picture of the neighborhood and city around it.
Pictures Courtesy of Kennerly
Kennerly Architecture & Planning is run by Principals Owen Kennerly and Sarina Bowen Kennerly. With each project, the duo considers the overall context of their design, looking at not only the other buildings which surround it, but also the ecological, social, political, economic, and regulatory considerations. Their designs have a certain type of flair and are designed to serve a variety of purposes. Owen Kennerly has worked in the Bay Area architecture scene since 1992. Before founding his own firm, he was a Senior Associate with Solomon Architecture & Urban Design in San Francisco. He is a member of the AIA, SPUR, and the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. He earned his BA from Northwestern University and his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. Sarina Bowen Kennerly has 16 years of experience specifically in commercial, residential and multi-family projects in the region. She has worked with noted Bay Area architects Daniel Solomon, Adele Naude Santos, Robert Swatt, and Kava Massih. She earned her Bachelor and Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a member of the AIA, SPUR, San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, and Build It Green.
Pictures Courtesy of Kennerly
Kennerly Architecture & Planning designed the 1020 Pine Street infill development inspired by the city’s fine-grain urbanism and prewar apartment building. This project contains eight modern units on Nob Hill, with bay windows of clear and silk-screened glass that flood the homes with natural light. Penthouses on the top floor have double-height ceilings, mezzanines, and roof decks. This project won an AIA San Francisco Design Award and a Gold Nugget Merit Award for Best Multi-Unit Project: 4-6 stories. The firm won a Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Award for its design of 200 Sixth Street, a mixed-use project with 52 apartments for low-income housing and 14 apartments for developmentally disabled adults. The bold nine-story building with a masonry facade was designed to reflect the neighborhood’s historic feel. At 300 Cornwall in the Inner Richmond, the firm designed six independent luxury residences that have received much critical acclaim. The structure is distinctly modern and geometric, with a ‘puzzle-like’ facade of warm wood, large windows, and stucco with contrasting white and blue-green paint. Each home has two levels and a completely different floor plan. This project earned an AIA San Francisco Merit Award and was featured in Modern Luxury. On a smaller scale, the firm designed three residential units at 201 Guerrero which were built vertically so that each space has ample daylight and its own roof garden. Other noteworthy projects include the Albion Street Residences, three new condominiums on the former site of San Francisco’s original Mission Dolores which are designed to be extremely sustainable and “Rock Flower” on Treat, four townhomes with slender glass towers on the corners of the building that provide its tenants access to private roof decks.
10) Christiani Johnson Architects
Website | (415) 243-9484 | Featured Principal: Richard Christiani
The majority of the work from award-winning firm Christiani Johnson Architects are multi-family and mixed-use projects throughout San Francisco and the surrounding area. Many of their developments are designed with sustainability and green building technology in mind.
Pictures Courtesy of Christiani Johnson
Christiani Johnson Architects was founded in 1994 by Richard Christiani and David Johnson. The firm has earned a reputation for integrated design, technical knowledge, and strong project leadership. Although they specialize in multi-family and mixed-use projects, the firm has also designed a number of smaller commercial, retail, and office developments, as well as single-family homes. Christiani Johnson Architects has excelled on urban infill sites, re-imagining underused or abandoned properties in the Bay Area. Their work balances elegance with sensible and practical design to best serve their clients and each individual site. They are committed to integrating sustainable designs into their projects, have designed a number of LEED certified projects, and are members of the U.S. Green Building Council. Christiani is an expert in designing for high-density and has a lifetime of experience in both construction and building design. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.
Pictures Courtesy of Christiani Johnson
Christiani Johnson Architects is currently working on a new mixed-use project at Mississippi and 17th Streets that will bring 135 new apartments and up to 4,500 square feet of retail space to the area. Spread out through multiple new four-story buildings, this project will also involve the rehabilitation of an existing historically significant brick building. The firm’s design is inspired by the industrial atmosphere of the surrounding neighborhood and focuses on giving future residents ample open space with private decks, common courtyards, and a roof deck. The practice also designed etta at 1285 Sutter in the Polk Gulch area, which won the award for 2014 Green Building of the Year from the San Francisco Apartment Association. The 13-story luxury high-rise includes 107 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space. This LEED Gold project contains a residential lounge, patios, semi-private gardens, an outdoor dining area with a fire pit, fitness studio and a dog run. Another major project was Rincon Green, a modern, 326-unit affordable housing development in the Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. This brought seven-stories of much needed low-income residential housing and an expansive corner public park to the area. The development includes a fitness center, rooftop terrace with a hot tub and city views, outdoor kitchen, green roof, and two levels of subterranean parking. The firm also has multi-family projects under way in San Carlos, Daly City, Sonoma, Redwood City, San Mateo, Berkeley, and Mountain View.
9) BAR Architects
Website | 415-293-5700 | Featured Principal: David Israel
Bar Architects is one of San Francisco’s premier design firms for multi-family and mixed-use projects. With over 40 years of experience contributing to the built environment, the practice has been recognized with over 180 regional, national, and international awards and honors, including the AIA California Council Firm of the Year award in 2000.
Pictures Courtesy of BAR
BAR Architects, founded by Bob Arrigoni, Bruce Ross and Howard Backen, has spent 40 years building a reputation for excellence in design. It is one of a small number of architecture firms certified as a San Francisco Bay Area Green Business. And BAR Architects proudly participates in the Public Architecture 1% pro-bono program, meaning they donate their time to non-profit organizations. BAR Architects has purposefully staffed their studio with individuals from diverse backgrounds to create an innovative and collaborative environment. BAR Architects has 8 Principals, including David Israel, who has over 30 years of experience designing mixed-use and multi-family housing. He joined BAR Architects over 25 years ago and was named Principal in 1997. Israel is actively involved in the architecture field, including as a member of the Urban Land Institute, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, and as a Board member of the AIA, San Francisco. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon.
Pictures Courtesy of BAR
BAR Architects is responsible for 38 Dolores, the LEED Gold Certified apartment complex at the corner of Market and Dolores Streets. 38 Dolores is an 81-unit complex above the neighborhood Whole Foods Market. It incorporates environmentally sensitive materials and building techniques to create a “green” urban living environment. It was recognized with an Award of Merit – Multi-family from Builder Magazine and two NAHB awards, among others. The practice also designed the apartment complex at the corner of 16th and Mississippi Streets. This mixed-use project has five stories of residential space above ground floor retail. It’s mixed glass, brick, steel, and wood facade blends industrial and historic elements from the surrounding neighborhood. The firm will soon add 239 apartments to the historic Showplace Square neighborhood with the full city block development 1 Henry Adams. This complex is aimed to help the neighborhood transition from its industrial past into a more community-minded and mixed-use area. The design’s use of clean lines, metal, plaster, and timber is meant to play off the nearby brick warehouses. Finally, 88 Arkansas is a mixed-use development with 127 units in Potrero Hill targeted to achieve LEED Platinum certification. To match the industrial character of its surroundings, BAR Architect designed a contemporary building with channel glass, sliding glass walls, corten steel, and concrete. They connect residents to the adjacent Jackson Park by incorporating numerous indoor/outdoor living spaces, including a rooftop garden and dog park. BAR Architects is also collaborating with Snøhetta on Seawall Lot 330, a mixed-use development with a hotel and residential condominiums located on the Embarcadero.
8) Paulett Taggart Architects
Website | (415) 956-1116 | Featured Principal: Paulett Taggart
Paulett Taggart founded the top San Francisco design firm Paulett Taggart Architects in 1986, which she now runs with fellow architect Eric Robinson. She has been one of San Francisco’s top architects and home designers for more than 3 decades. Together, the firm has designed many multi-family housing projects in the Bay Area, including many affordable housing projects.
Pictures Courtesy of Paulett Taggart
Paulett Taggart founded the top San Francisco design firm Paulett Taggart Architects in 1986, which she now runs with fellow architect Eric Robinson. She has been one of San Francisco’s top architects and home designers for more than 3 decades. Her work has received many local and national awards, including the Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Prize, and she has been recognized as a Fellow by the AIA. In addition to running her design firm, Taggart has taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the California College of the Arts. She is involved in her community, having been a member of LINE (the journal of the American Institute of Architects San Francisco), the AIASF/SFMOMA Lecture Committee, the San Francisco School District’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the Universalist Church of San Francisco. Taggart received her Bachelors from the University of Oregon and her Masters in Architecture from Harvard University.
Pictures Courtesy of Paulett Taggart
In addition to the many affordable housing projects featured in our “Best Affordable Housing Architects” list, this prestigious practice worked with Horizon Partners to convert a five-story concrete warehouse in Oakland into Fourth Street Lofts, 37 live/work spaces. Interior units were grouped into common ‘squares’, providing spatial rhythm and reducing the apparent length of corridors. With an eye towards the future, each unit was designed with minimum buildout to be flexible for future tenants. On Folsom Street in the Mission District, the practice designed three beautiful residential townhouses organized around a shared courtyard and new non-profit “Kitchen Incubator.” These townhomes received many awards, including an Excellence in Architecture Merit Award from AIA San Francisco, the Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Prize, Firm Excellence in Design Award from the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco, and were named by Curbed as the ‘Best New Buildings of the Decade.’ Another notable project is Rich Sorro Commons, a development with 100 family apartments. This project, in association with SMWM (now Perkins & Will), including a child development center, central parking, and a common outdoor space and community center. Finally, Sacramento Court added four new townhomes over an existing 40-car garage. The exterior of these homes is composed of two bays of dark wood windows, surrounded by warm brick. The design of these homes aims to reinforce the connection between interior and exterior: the courtyard’s paving continues into the entry of each home, and the wood window frames on the outside are used for translucent dividers between kitchens and dining rooms. This project received an AIA East Bay, Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Regional Design Merit Award and the Kirby Fitzpatrick Price, Firm Excellence in Design Award from the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco.
7) Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Website | (415) 495-1700 | Featured Principals: Marsha Maytum, William Leddy, Richard Stacy
This top tier practice is known for its commitment to socially responsible designs and has spent over 3 decades making positive change through the built environment in the Bay Area. LMSa was named the country’s Best Architectural Firm for 2017 by the American Institute of Architects. The practice has built over a dozen apartment complexes in the city for low-income residents. For their contributions to the field of architecture, all three principals have been awarded the rank of Fellow by the AIA.
Pictures Courtesy of LMSa
Maytum serves as appointed member of the National Register of Peer Professionals for the U.S. General Services Administration, the San Francisco Waterfront Design Advisory Committee Association, the University of California, Berkeley, Design Review Committee, and the Eco-Structure Editorial Advisory Board. She is also an active member of the United States Green Building Council, Urban Land Institute–San Francisco, and San Francisco Planning and Urban Research. She has taught at the University of Oregon, Eugene and California College of the Arts. Maytum studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Denmark and earned her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon.
Leedy is a member of the United States Green Building Council, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, and AIA California Council Energy in the Built Environment Steering Committee. Formerly, he served as an appointed member of AIA National Committee on the Environment, for which he served as chair for 2013, and as an appointed member of AIA California Committee on the Environment. He has taught at the University of Oregon, Eugene and California College of the Arts. Leddy earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon.
Stacy is a member of the United States Green Building Council, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University.
Pictures Courtesy of LMSa
LMSa designed one of the first residential projects to be built in the city’s Mission Bay North District. 235 Berry Street added 99 market-rate condominiums in a full block building that scales down from seven stories to a four-story frontage along Mission Creek Park. Of this project, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association declared: “This is an exemplary project that should be pointed to by the Redevelopment Agency as a precedent for what follows.” And perhaps one of their most significant projects was Rene Cazenave Apartments, which holds 120 permanent mini studio apartments for formerly chronically homeless individuals, and comprehensive supportive services. The firm had to be creative with the design due to budgetary restrictions, and substantial attention was given to sustainable design strategies, and the building was designed to reduce energy use by 42%. For its impressive green design, this project was recognized with an AIA National – Committee on the Environment, Top Ten Green Project. Other awards include a Merit Award for Architecture from the AIA California Council Residential, an AIA San Francisco Citation Award, and the MultiFamily Executive, Grand Winner: Affordable. The firm also designed 474 Natoma, which has one, two and three bedroom flats and townhouses for qualified low/middle-income families. The 75,000 square foot development features a central courtyard, and a landscaped terrace and a community garden on the top floor. LMSa integrated sustainable design strategies to promote healthy environments and energy efficiency. This project was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, and Architectural Record.
6) Fougeron Architecture
Website | (415) 641-5744 | Featured Principal: Anne Fougeron
Fougeron Architecture has previously developed many multi-family projects across the Bay Area and has many upcoming that will have a major impact on the city’s redevelopment goals. In part because of their work on multi-family buildings, this firm was recognized as one of the 50 best architectural firms in the United States by Residential Architect Magazine in 2010
Pictures Courtesy of Fougeron
French-American architect Anne Fougeron founded Fougeron Architecture in 1985. Her work is on display throughout the Bay Area in many forms, including multi-family buildings, single-family residential homes, and all types of commercial spaces. She has been trusted to redesign or update many of San Francisco’s historic and culturally significant buildings, including Brava Theater and a 1918 Carnegie library. Fougeron serves on the Board of Directors of the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland and is a Committee Member of the SFMoMA Accessions. In the past, she has taught architectural design at the California College of Art and the University of California, Berkeley. Her talents have been recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the award of Fellow, one of the highest honors an individual architect can be awarded. Her designs have won more than a dozen awards from various chapters of the AIA. She received her Bachelors of Arts from Wellesley College and her Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.
Pictures Courtesy of Fougeron
Fougeron Architecture designed the 400 GROVE mixed-use condominium building in Hayes Valley. This 34-unit project was designed so that almost all units have light from two sides, to create the feeling of detached homes. It was recognized with numerous awards, including a 2016 AIA East Bay Honor Award, Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Awards Multi-Unit Residential, 2016 Leading European Architect’s Forum Mixed-Use Building of the Year Shortlist, and an American Architects Building of the Week. It received a significant amount of press, including on the cover of the May 2017 edition of The Architect’s Newspaper, and in World-Architects, American-Architects, San Francisco Chronicle, and World Architecture News. And work recently began on Fougeron Architecture’s project development in Park Merced. This building is the first to break ground on the Park Merced redevelopment project. With 64 units, are located within two four-story bars which are offset by one floor, giving the building a distinctive, staggered profile. The units are designed to be highly energy efficient and Adaptable-Accessible. And in Oakland, the practice designed MACARTHER, a large scale remodel of an existing historic building. The exterior of the building is a combination of stucco, wood, and large aluminum windows on the street side, and stucco and lattice-like railings facing the courtyard to provide light but privacy. All 16 residential units are arranged around a courtyard so that each could have proper ventilation and light from two directions. All units are two stories and has their own private courtyards. The firm has also designed numerous affordable housing projects, such as Parkview Terrace, Carter Terrace, Mission Bay Block 6W, Transbay Blocks 8 and 9 and which are highlighted in our ‘Best Affordable Housing Architects’ list.
5) David Baker Architects
Website | 415-896-6700 | Featured Principals: David Baker, Amanda Loper, and Daniel Simons
David Baker Architects has been working across the Bay Area for more than 35 years. They have extensive experience in multi-family housing—specializing in affordable housing in sustainable buildings—and are committed to improving neighborhoods and quality of life through their designs. The firm has been recognized with more than 300 architectural design awards and honors, including six national AIA awards. DBA’s practice also includes interior architecture, hospitality design, urban design, and a fabrication workshop.
Pictures Courtesy of David Baker
David Baker Architects (DBA), with offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Birmingham, Alabama, was founded by David Baker in 1982. He is joined at the firm by two other principals: Amanda Loper and Daniel Simons. DBA is known throughout the Bay Area for their exceptional housing solutions and ability to design for density in an urban environment. The firm’s understanding of the ways in which people interact allows them to transform neighborhoods through the built environment.
Founder David Baker was recognized as a Fellow of the AIA in 1996. In 2014 he was named the Non-Profit Housing Association’s Visionary and Innovative Leader in Design and in 2009 received the Hearthstone Builders Humanitarian Award, naming him as one of the 30 most influential people in the housing industry over the past 30 years. He earned his Bachelor of Philosophy at Thomas Jefferson College and a Master in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Amanda Loper holds degrees in architecture and interior architecture from Auburn University. Daniel Simons has more than 15 years of experience in design and construction administration, and holds a Masters in Architecture from the University of Washington, Seattle.
Pictures Courtesy of David Baker
Clock Tower Lofts is a stunning renovation of a classic 1907 building that now holds 127 unique units ranging in size from 600 to 5,000 square feet, and a gorgeous community courtyard. In 1992, DBA took advantage of the concrete, brick, and timber structure to design unique, modern, and elegant living spaces that respect the historical quality of the building. One of DBA’s most awarded projects is the Drs. Julian + Raye Richardson Apartments in Hayes Valley. Providing permanent supportive housing for a very-low-income, formerly homeless individuals, it has 120 studio apartments and 2,700 square feet of retail space. It received an AIA National Housing Award, awards from AIA San Francisco, AIA California Council, AIA East Bay, ASLA, and multiple awards from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, among others. DBA also designed 300 Ivy Street, a mixed-use project with 63 new apartments and townhouses. This Hayes Valley development is LEED Platinum certified. It features as Feng Shui compliant entry courtyard with bicycle parking behind sliding barn doors, a warm modern lobby and a rooftop deck with an outdoor kitchen. 300 Ivy won the 2015 ASLA Professional Grand Award (Residential) and the Gold Nugget Grand Award—Best Multifamily Housing Community from the Pacific Coast Builders’ Conference. Recently, DBA has completed Potrero 1010. The new mixed-use, mixed-income community is made up of two unique residential buildings and a newly created 1-acre park. The development’s 453 new homes, at the base of Potrero Hill in San Francisco, include 90 affordable apartments as well as extensive community and retail uses. On a smaller scale, DBA designed Blue Star Corner, a 20-unit townhouse project in four building with shared gardens in Emeryville, inspired by Dutch rowhouses and British garden mews. DBA’s design cleverly builds upwards to make the most of this narrow lot, resulting in three and four level homes. DBA’s design used sustainable elements including bamboo flooring and fly-ash concrete. Blue Star Corner became the first multi-family attached housing development in California to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s pilot LEED for Homes program. It was awarded a Bay Area Regional Design Merit Award from the East Bay Chapter of AIA, and a Citation Award—Excellence in Architecture from the San Francisco Chapter of the AIA.
4) Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects
Website | (415) 626-8977 | Featured Principal: Stanley Saitowitz
Stanley Saitowitz is a world renowned designer who has over 30 years of experience in the Bay Area. He has pushed the boundaries of modern architecture in San Francisco with the designs of his multi-family developments, no small feat for a city known for its Victorian homes.
Pictures Courtesy of Stanley Saitowitz
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Stanley Saitowitz is the founder of Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc., an award-winning San Francisco-based architecture firm. Along with Neil Kaye, a licensed architect, the firm has completed housing, offices, museums, religious buildings, and memorials around the world. Saitowitz shares his design talents as a professor and lecturer. He is an Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and has taught at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cornell University, and the University of Texas at Austin, among others. He was a finalist for the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award given by Laura Bush at the White House. Saitowitz received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Witwatersrand and his Masters in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
Pictures Courtesy of Stanley Saitowitz
Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects designed the luxury apartment building 8 Octavia, at the entry of the 101 Freeway. Each apartment has louvers on the facade they can individually operate – which constantly changes the exterior image of the building and responds to different climate conditions to save energy and resources. The apartments feature open floor plans with minimal walls and constraints, to give occupants the freedom to use the space as it best suits their needs. Another project, Yerba Buena Lofts, contains 200 loft style residences in a bold, geometric glass and concrete building in SoMa. The firm incorporated a modern approach to bay windows, which they describe as ‘translucent-glass-cubes’ and the exterior skin is made of alternating translucent channel glass blocks and clear windows. The minimalist interior plans maximize space and invite future residents to customize their loft as necessary. All units have connected indoor/outdoor spaces. And at 1234 Howard Street, the firm designed 18 units in a sleek, steel building. This minimalistic design was featured in magazines such as Dwell and Architectural Record. At 616 11th Street, they designed 16 units across a four-level building in Dogpatch. The facade changes depending on the angle from which you view it: from one direction, it appears completely solid, but from the other, it appears entirely of glass. Other notable multi-family projects by the firm include 2146 3rd St, to be completed in 2018, 1029 Natoma Street, a prototype SOMA infill building which received an AIA Honor Award, 1515 15th Street, a 5-story building with 40 condos and a rooftop terrace, and Garden Village in Berkeley, a student village with internal streets, landscaped courtyards, and gardens on the roof of each building.
3) Kwan Henmi
Website | (415) 777-4770 | Featured Principals: Sylvia Kwan and Denis Henmi
Sylvia Kwan and Denis Henmi, both AIA Fellows, founded Kwan Henmi Architecture and Planning in San Francisco in 1980. As a firm, they are committed to sustainable community growth through their designs and relationships to local organizations. As such, they are built many important multi-family housing projects throughout the Bay Area.
Pictures Courtesy of Kwan Henmi
Kwan is a respected community leader. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum and a board member of the California Architects Board. She previously served as Director on the AIA National Board, the California Council Board, and the San Francisco Chapter Board. She was previously named one of San Francisco Business Times’ 75 Most Influential Women in Business and the American Diabetes Association’s Woman of the Year. She received the Asian Women’s Resources Center’s Outstanding Asian Woman Award and the Asian Business League of San Francisco’s 2000 Award for Achievement in the Business Community. Kwan earned her Bachelor and Master of Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.
Henmi is an expert in navigating the complex field of urban building. For his significant contributions to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare, Henmi was awarded NCARB’s highest honor, the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service. He has served on several National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) committees and served as president, vice president, and master commissioner over two terms on the California Architects Board. He was awarded the Octavius Morgan Distinguished Service Award for 2011. Henmi earned his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.
Pictures Courtesy of Kwan Henmi
Kwan Henmi designed Marlow, which adds 98 market-rate condominiums just off Nob Hill. The project was designed for density, but with a high-quality. The small housing units are spread throughout the eight-story L-shaped building. Their design respects and reinforces the urban architecture of the neighborhood, while bringing in a contemporary vision to the site with geometric patterns adorning the exterior and flowing into the interior design. This project also included the addition of a beautiful shared courtyard with lounge areas and firepits. Another project, Vida, will add 114 market-rate condominiums adjacent to the New Mission Theater. The vivacious, contemporary facade was meant to reflect the young generation that will live in this community. Significantly, Kwan Henmi designed Arterra, the first LEED Silver condominium high-rise in San Francisco. This development in the Mission Bay neighborhood has 269 residential units and is cited as establishing a new standard for residential development in the city, both in terms of architecture and innovative design, but also in regards to designing for the benefit of the greater community. Other projects include Icon @ Doyle in Emeryville, an adaptive re-use of a warehouse to low-rise multi-family residential rental units, Icon @ Park in Emeryville, which won both a Gold Nugget Award and a Builders Choice Award for Design, and Soma Grand, a slender twenty-two story residential tower for which they collaborated with AI Architects. And Kwan Henmi served as the executive architect, including design development & refinement, for The Watermark, a 22-story luxury residential project in the South Beach waterfront area, and for the Paramount, a forty-story mixed-used tower with a combination of 486 luxury and affordable apartment units.
2) Handel Architects
Website | (415) 495-5588 | Featured Principal: Gary E. Handel
Handel Architects is a globally recognized firm that specializes in large-scale mixed-use buildings. Led by AIA Fellow Gary E. Handel, the practice has been recognized with over 150 awards and honors from regional, national, and international organizations and publications.
Pictures Courtesy of Handel
Handel Architects was founded in New York City in 1994 and now has additional offices in San Francisco and Hong Kong and over 150 architects, designers, and planners. The practice was founded on the principle that well-designed large-scale, mixed-use buildings can enrich urban environments and drive economic development. Their work is regularly featured in top architectural journals and design publications and has won over 150 awards and honors. Handel Architects’ prestige is indicated by their invitation to design the National September 11 Memorial in New York City. Gary E. Handel, Founding Partner and Managing Principal, has been recognized as a Fellow by the AIA. He is a leader in the field of hybrid mixed-use buildings. Handel has served as a Founding Board Member of the Friends of the High Line and a Board Member of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University.
Pictures Courtesy of Handel
Handel Architects designed NEMA, also known as Tenth and Market, a 754-unit luxury residential apartment complex in the Mid-Market neighborhood. This complex consists of a 19-story, 220-foot tower and a 35-story, 352-foot tower, connected by a nine-story podium. The building includes an indoor saline pool and 11,000 square foot gym, a 3rd floor rooftop urban terrace, and has sleek modern finishes throughout, such as polished concrete flooring. The entire building was also outfitted with top-of-the-line technology for its future residents. And perhaps the firm’s multi-family design with the most recognition is Millennium Tower, a 58-story residential tower in SoMa with ground floor retail, 419 condominium units, and a five-level underground parking garage. The building it is the tallest concrete structure in San Francisco (fourth tallest overall) and features a beautiful a public glass atrium. Among its many awards are the Building San Francisco Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, a Design Award from the Society of American Registered Architects National and an Award of Merit from California Construction. The San Francisco Business Journal named it the Best Market-rate Residential Project that year, and Emporis.com named it one of the Top 10 Skyscrapers of the Year. The company also designed the new 40-story 340 Fremont tower for Equity Residential in the Rincon Hill district. This 348-unit building includes a full amenity floor and outdoor garden areas. 340 Fremont was recognized with the award for Real Estate Deal of the Year by the San Francisco Business Times. Other noteworthy multi-family housing projects in San Francisco include Nove, a luxury nine-unit LEED Platinum development in the Mission that won, among other awards, the Grand Award from EcoHome Design Awards, 706 Mission, a new 700,000 square foot residential tower that will also house the The Mexican Museum, the mixed-use 950 Market Street where Union Square, Tenderloin, and South of Market meet, 950 Tennessee, a new 108-unit residential building in Dogpatch, 1001 Van Ness Avenue, a new 330,000 square foot building located in Cathedral Hill neighborhood, and 325 Fremont, an upcoming boutique highrise in the Transbay Transit District.
1) Heller Manus Architects
Website | 415.247.1100 | Featured Principals: Jeffrey Heller and Clark Manus
Heller Manus Architects is an internationally influential firm with a focus on urban building, led by president and founder Jeffrey Heller, FAIA, and CEO Clark Manus, FAIA and former president of the AIA. Since its founding in 1984, they have made their mark on the built environment in this city, in particular with residential highrises and skyscrapers that will define the city’s skyline for years to come.
Pictures Courtesy of Heller Manus
Heller Manus Architects’ design philosophy is rooted in innovation, functionality, respect for continuity and context, and creating spaces that will continue to be relevant for generations. Their most recognizable work consists of master plans to in-fill buildings, sleek high-rise office towers, residential multi-unit buildings and transportation facilities, but they also complete historic and civic renovations.
Heller is a leader in the green building movement and designed some of the first sustainable architecture and large scale urban planning projects in the US and China, including the first LEED Gold office towers in San Francisco and Shanghai and the first LEED Platinum neighborhood development master plan. He has received several awards and honors and is a frequently invited speaker. Prior to launching his own firm, he worked at SOM, Gensler, and at KMD. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Clark is internationally recognized for his expertise in complex urban, mixed-use buildings and master planning projects and has truly influenced the direction of San Francisco’s urban growth. For two decades after the 1989 earthquake, he chaired successive Mayoral Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC). As the AIA’s 87th president, he spearheaded initiatives on healthy, sustainable, and resilient communities, as well as foreign professional corporation. Clark’s AIA leadership is credited with strengthening the organization’s relationship with the United States Green Building Council, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, and the Urban Land Institute. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design and Psychology at the University of Buffalo, and his Master in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves as a planning commissioner for the city of Oakland.
Pictures Courtesy of Heller Manus
Heller Manus Architects has two multi-family projects under construction that will change the city’s skyline: Oceanwide Center and 181 Fremont Street. Oceanwide Center in the Transbay District, designed in collaboration with Foster + Partners, is a 2 million square foot LEED Platinum project with two towers: one 650 feet tall and the other 850 feet, which will make it the tallest residential project on the West Coast. These buildings will provide 770,000 square feet of residential units. 181 Fremont, in the South of Market/Transbay neighborhood, is 54 stories and designed to be LEED Platinum. This modern tower will hold 74 residential units on the top 15 floors. Its exterior reflects its unique structural system and has many innovative features, including a curtain wall design and green roof. The firm’s design for The Infinity, two towers, has unique curving façades to maximize views. In the Rincon Hill neighborhood, these 37 and 42 story towers contain 650 condominium units, the city’s largest private health club, a 75-foot indoor pool, theater space, and a central landscaped courtyard. In collaboration with Arquitectonica, this project also delivered 165 below market rate units on another SoMa site. This project won many awards, including California Construction’s Best of 2008, Northern California and the CEFI Charles Pankow Award for Innovation. Other projects include Lumina at 201 Folsom, the Montaire at 1340 Clay Street , and the award-winning Metropolitan between the Financial District and the Embarcadero. Multi-family residential renovations include One Ecker Place, and The Royal at 201 Sansome.