Rene Cazenave Apartments
Safe Haven: The first residential building in San Francisco's Transbay redevelopment area sets the bar high for those that follow.
Architects & Firms
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.
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
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Associate architect(s): Saida + Sullivan Design Partners
Civil: Luk & Associates
MEP: Ajmani & Pamidi
Lighting: Architectural Lighting Design
Acoustical: Charles Salter & Associates
Other: Sage Green Development (green rater)
General contractor: Cahill Contractors
Gross square footage:
74,723 square feet
Total project cost:
Total construction cost:
Rainscreen: Swisspearl and Minerit HD
Moisture barrier: Grace Perm-A-Barrier
Other: Hydrotech green roof membrane
Skylights: Metcoe Skylight Specialties
Insulated-panel or plastic glazing: Polygal
Other: 3form (resin panels)
Metal doors: Door Components Inc.
Wood doors: Marshfield Door Systems
Sliding glass doors: Fleetwood
Fire-control doors, security grilles: Smoke Guard (elevator door curtain)
Closers: Horton and LCN
Exit devices: Von Duprin and Adams Rite
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
Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Reception furniture: Qunice & Milan
Chairs: SitOnIt Seating
Exterior: B-K Lighting (downlights), Linear Lighting Corp. (canopy light)
Apartment Toilets: Sterling
Apartment Lavatories: Kohler
Apartment Tub: Bootz
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: