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When it was first constructed, San Francisco’s 833 Bryant was a chrome monolith. A zig-zagged structure with new Cor-Ten steel and corrugated aluminum paneling, the six-story community housing project by David Baker Architects was a fresh addition to the block. Three months later, it looked completely different. The oxidized Cor-Ten exterior gained a rusted texture, contrasting with its once-matching aluminum panels for a gracefully aged façade.

This corrosion was no happy accident. David Baker Architects deliberately selected enduring materials that were durable, cost-efficient, and enhanced the project’s beauty over time. Designed in partnership between Mercy Housing, Tipping Point Community, and the San Francisco Accelerator Fund, David Baker Architects combined unique design techniques and sustainable, low-maintenance materials to create a quality shelter for the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing of the City of San Francisco.

To achieve 833 Bryant’s time-worn façade, David Baker Architects tapped the experts at BŌK Modern, a metals innovator with weathering steel offerings. Backed by a qualified team of architects and engineers, BŌK Modern had the unparalleled capability to support David Baker Architects’ ambitious goal to cover large modular units with hundreds of Cor-Ten steel and aluminum panels. BŌK worked collaboratively with David Baker Architects through unforeseen challenges to create an enduring, timeless structure with little upkeep required.

“There is zero maintenance over the building’s life. The Cor-Ten steel material is non-degrading compared to wood, composite panels, plaster, or other solutions.”
Russ Naylor, Co-Founder of BŌK Modern

Read on to see the façade’s striking transformation from installation to a year of weathering.

833 Bryant.
833 Bryant.
833 Bryant.

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In order to maximize efficiency and philanthropic funds, David Baker Architects designed modular units off-site while 833 Bryant’s foundations were poured and utilities were installed on-site. The completed modular units were then situated by a crane, which required precise alignment. In places where the alignment was off, the versatile façade offered the aesthetic coverage needed.

Using 3D scans of the entire building, BIM modeling was used to locate the offsets and customize the Cor-Ten panels to fit. The final project was installed with only three remakes—a material-saving solution to an unprecedented challenge. Plus, the undulating panels seamlessly masked misaligned modules in a way that flat finish systems such as stucco could not.

833 Bryant.

While many buildings are designed with high-maintenance materials and require constant upkeep, Cor-Ten and aluminum are durable, cost-efficient skin solutions—making them ideal materials for philanthropically funded projects like 833 Bryant. “There is virtually zero-maintenance over the building’s life,” said Russ Naylor, Co-Founder of BŌK Modern. “The Cor-Ten steel material is non-degrading compared to wood, composite panels, plaster, or other solutions.”

The sheet metal takes advantage of modern technology like CNC laser cutting and forming to create exact cuts with minimal waste. BŌK Modern’s products are locally manufactured in Northern California—which drastically reduces shipping costs—and are 100 percent recyclable after use.

833 Bryant.

Located in the SOM Pilipinas Cultural District, 833 Bryant showcases the beauty of metal façade offerings. The rice field-inspired perforated pattern adds an abstract focal point to the main façade of the building as well as areas of panels that cover HVAC unit grilles—delivering an uninterrupted continuity to the undulating façade.

833 Bryant.

While many design projects focus on the here and now, 833 Bryant looks toward the future. Providing shelter for community members for decades to come, evolving exterior materials create a warm, welcoming environment that will only get better with age. “The installation has a beautiful patina after enduring years of various weather conditions,” said Naylor. “We loved working with David Baker Architects on this meaningful community space.”

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Video by O’Kane Structural Steel, San Francisco. General Contractor: Cahill Contractors. Installer: O’Kane Structural Steel.


Author: Heddie Chu, Co-Founder of BŌK Modern
Heddie Chu is the co-founder of BŌK Modern, a leader in architectural metals and façades with cutting-edge, enduring product solutions. BŌK Modern prides themselves on tenured expertise, nuanced perspectives, and pushing boundaries to drive their innovative process.