Firm: David Baker Architects

Award: Merit


Five88 is the largest new 100% affordable housing development to open in San Francisco in a decade. Located in the rapidly developing Mission Bay area adjacent to the new UCSF Medical Center, the building provides 200 affordable, transit-oriented new homes for low-income families, with priority given to local healthcare and education workers.

A gateway to a new neighborhood, the corner takes a dramatic form clad with custom-perforated weathering steel and visually supported by a row of “dancing columns”—tilting textured-concrete columns that make for a lighthearted and dynamic street edge. The prominent open-air staircase by the entry supports giant bamboo and encourages residents to be active and connect with nature.

The large building steps down from four stories at the west to three stories toward the east. The massing is broken into discrete volumes to create a varied and accessible street edge and features resident entries at both sides of the block, connecting through a central courtyard. At mid-block, a new pedestrian mews lined with stoops activates the sidewalk and anticipates connection to a future park.

The airy building wraps a large sheltered open space and a central community pavilion. A second-level podium courtyard overlooks this space and the pavilion’s planted roof. A suite of community uses—laundry, fitness room, and resident lounge—connect to this upper courtyard, which is covered in playful bright blue “Smurf” turf.

The landscape design—inspired by the work of Brazilian landscape architect and painter Roberto Burle Marx—features drought-tolerant and native plantings, and cactus green roofs dotted with blooming yuccas over the common rooms.

The podium tops an embedded garage with 52 auto parking spaces, 200 bicycle parking spaces (1:1), and a designated car-share space. The plan efficiently features only three unit types, reducing construction cost and complexity.

The GreenPoint Gold building incorporates a complementary series of sustainable strategies: All rainwater is captured onsite and filtered through biofiltration planters;

solar hot water preheats domestic water, reducing energy use; and irrigation and toilets are plumbed with “purple pipe,” ready to receive municipal greywater when City system is in place.

This high-density design is located along the Fourth Street bicycle route and adjacent to the Third Street Light Rail. It features 10,000 sf of easily accessible neighborhood-serving retail space.

As the site is on coastal landfill, the project required extensive settlement research and used mitigation strategies, including foundation piles and surface pavers.


AIA California
AIA California
AIA California is dedicated to serving its members, and uniting all architecture professionals in the design of a more just, equitable and resilient future through advocacy, education and political action. It celebrates more than 75 years of service and, today, is composed of more than 11,000 members across the state.

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