San Francisco


In downtown San Francisco, cranes and machinery are clanking away on a construction site just south of Mission Street. They are working on the new Pelli Clarke Pelli'designed Transbay Terminal and surrounding buildings, the city's entr'e into high-density, transit-oriented development. The transportation hub and its 1,070-foot sky-piercing Salesforce Tower aren't due to be completed until 2017, but in the meantime, other parts of the 145-acre redevelopment area are starting to take shape. Located at the southernmost border of the district is the first new residential building, the Rene Cazenave Apartments. Its 120 units provide supportive housing for the chronically homeless and help satisfy the city's requirement that 35 percent of the approximately 4,500 apartments in the new neighborhood be affordable for very low- to moderate-income households.

The eight-story, $42.7 million building was designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, a San Francisco-based firm with a client base that consists primarily of nonprofit organizations and an impressive portfolio of affordable housing projects. “We believe that great design should be available to all,” says principal Richard Stacy. The firm partnered with two non-profit housing developers Bridge Housing and Community Housing Partnership. The latter organization also owns and operates the building.

Named after a late San Francisco housing advocate, the building’s first-floor plan encourages residents to take advantage of support services such as substance abuse counseling and psychotherapy, placing them prominently along the primary circulation corridor. This internal “Main Street” is wide and daylit through 7.5-foot-diameter skylights. “We wanted to get away from the idea that there was any stigma attached to using these services,” says Stacy.

This parti also allowed the building’s ground level along Folsom Street to be devoted to retail space; the Transbay redevelopment plan envisions this part of Foslom as a busy boulevard, with wide sidewalks and public amenities. The first couple of tenants, a Vietnamese sandwich shop and a chocolatier, have already moved in.

The units are modestly sized—most are 320-foot studios—but pleasantly bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows. The apartments, conceived by associate architects Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, have thoughtful touches like up- and down-lighting in the kitchen, to set apart that area from the rest of the apartment’s entry hall. The residents pay 30 percent of their income in rent, an average of $375 a month.

The units are arranged along double-loaded corridors in groups of four to provide a sense of community within the larger whole. The massing breaks down into four smaller towers connected by elevators, stairs, and utility rooms. In some places, the towers are bridged by additional living space, creating horizontal bands that add to the diversity of the facade, which is clad in aqua-colored and naturally gray fiber-cement rainscreen panels.

The structure employs an innovative lateral bracing system of post-tensioned concrete shear walls developed by engineering firm Tipping Mar. It should provide extra level of seismic protection so that residents can continue to occupy their apartments after a major earthquake. Designed with sustainability in mind, Cazenave has a rooftop canopy of photovoltaic and solar-hot-water panels and a dual-plumbing system that will allow  the toilets and irrigation system to use reclaimed water once the necessary city infrastructure is in place. The building is expected to use nearly 30 percent less energy than required by California’s stringent Title 24 standards. “As a gateway for the new neighborhood,” says Stacy, Cazenave “needed to set a high standard for inclusiveness, design, and sustainability.”

Lydia Lee is a San Francisco-based journalist who writes about architecture, design, and urban development. 


Client: Community Housing Partnership and Bridge Housing

Owner: Community Housing Partnership

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
677 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-495-1700 phone
415-495-1717 fax

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Richard Stacy FAIA, Partner-In-Charge
Vanna Whitney AIA, Project Architect
Charlie Stott AIA, Senior Associate
Jason Bohlander AIA
Chris May AIA
Jake Afreth

Associate architect(s): Saida + Sullivan Design Partners

Structural: Tipping Mar & Associates with Bello & Associates

Civil: Luk & Associates

MEP: Ajmani & Pamidi

Landscape: GLS Landscape Architecture

Lighting: Architectural Lighting Design

Acoustical: Charles Salter & Associates

Other: Sage Green Development (green rater)

General contractor: Cahill Contractors

Tim Griffith

Gross square footage:

74,723 square feet

Total project cost:

$42.7 million

Total construction cost:

$31 million

Completion date:

December 2013



Structural system

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels: Van Mulder (sheet metal fabrication subcontactor)

Rainscreen: Swisspearl and Minerit HD

Moisture barrier: Grace Perm-A-Barrier

Built-up roofing: Johns Manville

Other: Hydrotech green roof membrane

Metal frame: Graham Aluminum (aluminum windows) and Arcadia (aluminum storefront) and DRS (steel windows)

Glass: Hartung and Solarban

Skylights: Metcoe Skylight Specialties

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing: Polygal

Other: 3form (resin panels)

Entrances: Arcadia

Metal doors: Door Components Inc.

Wood doors: Marshfield Door Systems

Sliding glass doors: Fleetwood

Fire-control doors, security grilles: Smoke Guard (elevator door curtain)

Locksets: Schalge and Adams Rite

Closers: Horton and LCN

Exit devices: Von Duprin and Adams Rite

Pulls: Rockwood

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Glacier (custom cabinetry subcontractor) and Grandview (production cabinets)

Paints and stains: Kelly Moore and Tnemec

Wall coverings: Marlite FRP

Paneling: Smith & Fong Plyboo

Solid surfacing: Cesarstone

Floor and wall tile: Daltile

Resilient flooring: Forbo and Kardean

Carpet: Shaw

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
3form (resin panels)
9wood (wood slat ceiling)

Office furniture: Steelcase

Reception furniture: Qunice & Milan

Chairs: SitOnIt Seating

Interior ambient lighting: Williams (circular corridor troffer and reception desk pendants), Bruck (skylight fixtures), Modern Fan (main floor fan/lights), Finelite (offices), Color Kinetics (apartment entry fixtures), Monte Carlo (apartment fan/light)

Exterior: B-K Lighting (downlights), Linear Lighting Corp. (canopy light)

Elevators/Escalators: Otis

Apartment Sink: Elkay

Apartment Toilets: Sterling

Apartment Lavatories: Kohler

Apartment Tub: Bootz

Photovoltaic system: Sunpower

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Heliodyne (solar hot water panels)
Hydrotech (green roof waterproofing)
Dow (exterior insulation)