The Plaza Apartments – Low Income doesn’t mean Low Design Standard

The Plaza Apartments, located in San Francisco, CA has sharp lines and a colorful facade that boasts solar panels, recycled building materials, bamboo floors, paneling made with recycled wood products and plenty of natural light and ventilation.

Designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Paulett Taggart Architects, the $22 million building has 106 small studios on the north corner of Howard and Sixth Street in the South of Market District. The 300 square foot units include a full bath and kitchenette with energy efficient appliances including a disposal, refrigerator, stove and microwave. The nine-story building was constructed for affordable housing while allowing ground floor retail space. The mixed-use building contains a reception area, offices, kitchen pantry, community room, courtyard with barbeque and a laundry/lounge room with deck. Plans also include a non-profit theatre in the basement.

Under the guidance of the city’s Department of Public Health’s Direct Access to Housing Program, acclaimed as an effective means for ending chronic homelessness, residents have on-site support services. Six employees will focus on social skills, money management and vocational opportunities as well as medical and mental health.

Thorburn Associates’ involvement began with a site visit to conduct noise measurements in the surrounding neighborhood. California Uniform Building Code Title 24 requires that the interior noise level within dwelling units be limited to 45 dBA. The noise measurements provide the information necessary for cost effective recommendations to reduce outside noise sources.

TA included recommendations for exterior window and wall constructions to isolate environmental noise, providing a higher quality of living. In our own modern offices and houses we often take this sound abatement for granted, yet blocking out the outside world—the rushing traffic, blaring sirens and screaming stereos—is a reprieve. Continuing those standards to the walls and ceilings between the units provides a true sense of personal space: a quiet studio, a home.

A successful project – with close cooperation of all the entities involved– opened its doors last month. You can read more about the project in the upcoming issue of the Northern California Real Estate & Construction Review.