San Francisco’s Best Buildings

The San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects handed out its Honor awards for design in the city. Check out this year's winners.

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Rothschild Schwartz architects, inc.
Designed to feel as if it has always been there, the Final(ly) House atop Wolfback Ridge is precisely executed for its owners and its unique site. The universally accessible design reconciles the need for a flat house on a sloping site, meeting the needs of the owners who are nearing ninety years of age. Green elements are integral to the overall design principles and ultimate expression of the house.
Timothy Hursley
This new embassy responds to its diplomatic role as a secure space that is both welcoming and respectful of local traditions. To mitigate its scale and create a light aesthetic, the complex was broken into “neighborhoods.” Simple architectural geometries, coupled with gardens and courtyards, symbolically fuse eastern and western traditions.
Tim Griffith
The Sava Pool Facility responds to its unique setting in Larsen Park and its proximity to a thoroughfare and a residential neighborhood. The building, a series of simple monumental forms, is made of exposed cast-in-place concrete and aluminum curtain wall—sustainable materials selected for durability and suitability for a pool and park setting.
Cesar Rubio
The Portola Valley Town Center includes a new Library, Town Hall and Community Hall arranged around a Town Plaza and performance lawn. The 11 acre site also includes restored native habitat, a daylighted portion of creek, playing fields and courts and maintenance facilities.
Timothy Hursley
The Cathedral of Christ the Light resonates as a place of worship and conveys an inclusive statement of welcome and openness as the community’s symbolic soul. The glass, wood, and concrete structure ennobles and inspires through the use of light, material, and form.
Tim Griffith and Carl Wilmington
The program for the San Francisco Friends School was to take the historic, all wood, 87,000 gsf Levi Strauss Building (originally built in 1906, after the earthquake) and transform it into a K-8 school. Aside from the removal and simplification of “un-historic” 1970’s windows and trellises, and ADA upgrades, the exterior of the building was to remain virtually unchanged. Inside, however, the space is transformed into classrooms, meeting rooms, faculty offices, a cafeteria, a library, a gymnasium with a stage and a reception area and student gallery. A 10,000 gsf space in front of the building is landscaped to provide an outdoor play area.
Bruce Damonte
147 Laidley is new, modern single-family residence. The design is spatially and aesthetically rational, expressive of materials, detail and craft and built to a high level of sustainability. A Design/Build project delivery was used allowing for continuous design refinement, experimentation during the construction process and high levels of process efficiency.
Nic Lehoux
The Caretaker’s Cottage and Office are situated along the verdant edge of a creek. Sited between the public world of an entry drive and the private world of the forested creek, solid wood clad volumes front the drive allowing private glazed living areas to open up to the natural world beyond.
Tim Griffith
The expansion of Trinity School, an independent K-5 school in Menlo Park, provides much needed program space as well as a stronger entry experience and identity for the school. The new building, with a large exterior stair, connects the upper campus to the coveted lush lower yard and play areas.
Tim Griffith
The new environmentally-sensitive California Academy of Sciences embodies the institution’s mission to explore, explain and protect the natural world. An undulating living roof lightly drapes over large spherical exhibit spaces and an aquarium below. The building’s transparency incorporates Golden Gate Park as a visible part of the building itself.
Rien van Rijthoven
On the plinth two buildings are placed forming a courtyard. One is the masonry sanctuary, a vessel floating in water, the other a radiant cube housing all other spaces of the congregation.
Matthew Millman
355 Eleventh is a LEED Gold candidate adaptive reuse of a Historic (and previously derelict) turn-of-the-century industrial building. It is the first project to rise through San Francisco’s new priority permitting process for green buildings and is on track to become the City’s first Gold-level LEED-NC building. The 3-story, mixed-use project was developed and constructed by the building’s primary occupant, a general contractor specializing in Green building. The owner & general contractor occupies the entire second floor (administration & offices). The third floor is leased to an architect. A restaurant & bar will occupy the first floor and exterior courtyard.
David Wakely
This innovative classroom building, one of the greenest learning spaces in Northern California, is 97% more energy-efficient than a building of comparable size and function and serves as a healthy learning environment for middle school students. Project goals included meeting the School’s commitment to students, educators and the community to incorporate sustainable design elements throughout.
Tim Griffith
A multi-use urban sanctuary within San Francisco’s Tenderloin including permanent and transitional very low-income housing and a full spectrum Community Center with social, recreational, educational, spiritual and communal uses. Housing serves aged-out foster youth, veterans and multiple-substance abuse adults in recovery. Community Center serves kids and adults throughout the Tenderloin.
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