David Baker Architects

SPUR FORUM 2014.2.11

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DBA Senior Associate Amanda Loper.

Amanda Loper AIA LEED AP joined DBA in 2006 and became a Senior Associate in 2013. She holds degrees in architecture and interior architecture from Auburn University and is an alumna of the Rural Studio. Her current projects include two market-rate developments that comprise several city blocks in San Francisco. Amanda specializes in rapid architectural prototyping and works to bring social awareness to issues of housing and density within the urban setting. 

This presentation was part of a SPUR Forum series exploring the cost of housing. Download a PDF of Amanda's presentation above. Contact Amanda at amandaloper@dbarchitect.com.

 

 

San Francisco is facing serious housing challenges, and the question of the day is "How can we decrease the cost of providing urban housing?"

This is a complicated challenge with a lot of moving parts, and innovative solutions will need to come from all players, including architects.

As part of a broad approach to moving urban housing production forward, DBA Senior Associate Amanda Loper proposes design strategies that can work to increase density and lower costs.

 

Dense development can also bring great common amenities, such as this 1-acre public park.

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"How Can We Reduce the Cost of Providing Urban Housing?"

Mark Hogan, moderator
Mark Hogan Architect  

Amanda Loper 
David Baker Architects
Sarah Dennis-Phillips
SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development
Joe Olla
Nibbi Brothers General Contractors
Taeko Takagi
Zeta Design + Build

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Architectural solutions can help decrease the cost of providing urban housing.

Subtle and complementary design strategies—from smaller units to taller buildings to creative configurations—can incrementally increase our much-needed density while also increasing quality of life for city residents.

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Richardson Apartments is an example of a Type V wood-frame building over a Type I concrete podium and is 55 feet high. Image: David Baker Architects

EQR Potrero is a 65-foot-high building about to start construction in Potrero Hill. It will bring nearly 500 units to market in five stories of Type III wood construction over a Type I concrete podium. Image: David Baker Architects

Density doesn't have to be scary.

 

The planning code and the building code should talk to one another and create a correlation between typical, cost-effective construction types and allowable building heights. Strategically adding just 10 feet to height limits on select existing developable parcels throughout the city could increase density by 25% with relatively little impact on neighborhoods. Adding 10 feet to 48-foot limits makes way for a building such as Richardson Apartments; adding 10 feet to 58-foot limits creates the opportunity for a building such as EQR Potrero (as illustrated here). 

 

Image: Seifel Consulting

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"Nested" units interlock two plans, allowing studio units to become junior one-bedrooms.

Small spaces can be great.

 

Small units can come in many packages and can also fit together like puzzle pieces to create wonderful places to live.

The 345 sf units at the Richardson Apartments offer ample, streamlined living space.

Windows overlooking city and courtyard views bring in light and air.

This 400 sf studio apartment is expanded by its access to a large shared yard.

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1532 Harrison Co-Housing. Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

Let's live together!

 

With more density and more amenity, shared spaces can pack a lot of bang for the buck. Co-housing allows for privacy and a sense of ownership while providing opportunities for more ample, diverse, and gracious common spaces.

For example, by creating bedroom suites each with a lean kitchen and bathroom, the co-housing design below fits 9 living spaces in the same footprint as 6.5 units and increases the quality and flexibility of the shared space.

A clever and efficient layout and use of built-in storage makes for a very livable co-housing space. Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

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So, what if we do come up with valuable cost-saving solutions?

 

 

There is presently a gap of at least $150,000 between the actual cost of bringing a unit to market and the price-point accessible to the average household in San Francisco. If we lower development and construction costs, how will that actually translate into costs to the consumer?

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It takes a village (to build a city)

 

There is no magic bullet. It will take changes across all aspects of housing design, development, construction, and policy. Flexibility, innovative solutions and incremental change are crucial to addressing our urban housing challenges. And of course, a dose of radical optimism will help.

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Richardson Apartments is an example of a Type V wood-frame building over a Type I concrete podium and is 55 feet high. Image: David Baker Architects

EQR Potrero is a 65-foot-high building about to start construction in Potrero Hill. It will bring nearly 500 units to market in five stories of Type III wood construction over a Type I concrete podium. Image: David Baker Architects

Dense development can also bring great common amenities, such as this 1-acre public park.

There's a large number of soft spots available for development at 48' along corridors that can handle more height. Image: Seifel Consulting

Image: Seifel Consulting

Image: Seifel Consulting

Image: Seifel Consulting

The 345 sf units at the Richardson Apartments offer ample, streamlined living space.

Windows overlooking city and courtyard views bring in light and air.

This 400 sf studio apartment is expanded by its access to a large shared yard.

"Nested" units interlock two plans, allowing studio units to become junior one-bedrooms.

1532 Harrison Co-Housing. Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

1532 Harrison Co-Living clusters create communities and maximize multi-use spaces and shared amenities. Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

A clever and efficient layout and use of built-in storage makes for a very livable co-housing space. Image: BUILD Inc./Macy Architecture

DBA Senior Associate Amanda Loper.