David Baker Architects

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by Andrea Nussbaum
91° More than Architecture
November 2008

Residential complex 888 Seventh Street in San Francisco.

The U.S. real estate market is about to collapse. And yet construction continues. If it is top-quality architecture, such as the work of David Baker, it has a future, despite the financial and real estate crisis. David Baker is a "green" architect who has been devoting his energies towards sustainable construction for several years now. A resident of San Francisco, Baker has also adjusted his private life to ecologically sound principals: in 2002 he sold his VW Beetle and has been getting around by bicycle ever since. He even visits construction sites in the city on his bike. His interest in sustainable, solar arhcitecture runs in the family: his father, an autodidact, built a solar-powered adobe houses in Arizona and Michigan.

David Baker, raised on the books and works of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, studied in Berkeley and was already a proponent of solar energy in the 1970s. Application of the principal of social balance is another characteristic feature of his architecture: half of his residential building projects fall into the "affordable" category. The Mission Bay project in a newly developed district of San Francisco consists of 170 subsidized apartments, of which only 54 were offered at the market price.

Baker loves to mix different facade materials and colors, something which is clearly visible in this housing complex. He utilizes plaster, metal and shingle made of fiber cement in browm or reddish hues. Major projects call for this kind of visual diversity. His 888 Seventh Street project is a particularly good demonstration of such variety. Yet it is not enough to simply create living space; a fully functioning neighborhood also needs a healthy infrastructure. And this too was integrated into the construction project. The plans include shops and a cafe lining the streets, green inner courtyards and public green spaces. The residential complex has not only made Mission Bay denser and more urban; it has also improved the quality of life in the area.

Residential complex 888 Seventh Street in San Francisco.