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Photograph of two street façades of a five-story mixed-use building, with one side clad in weathering steel.
Low-angle aerial photograph of a waterfront neighborhood in San Francisco, with the Financial District and Oakland Bay Bridge in the background.
Photograph of weathered steel panels on a façade of the apartment building.
Photograph of the first floor of a building, with angled concrete columns along the sidewalk supporting the building’s upper stories.
Photograph of a stoop at the front door of an apartment, raised three steps above the sidewalk and decorated with a table and chair, plants, and a plastic flamingo.
Photograph of several people in Five88’s open-air lobby, with the courtyard in the middle-ground and wings of the apartment building in the background.
Photograph of a common area with artwork hanging on a wall near a table where five people are seated.
Photograph of a landscaped courtyard enclosed by a four-story building, with the lobby at the right edge of the photograph.
Photograph of two children playing on artificial turf in front of a one-story building with glass sliding doors; a three-story apartment building in the background frames these courtyard facilities.
Perspective cross-section through the Five88 building and courtyard with labels identifying six sustainable features.

 

Home >Case Studies >San Francisco, California: Well-Designed Affordable Housing Does More than Shelter

 

San Francisco, California: Well-Designed Affordable Housing Does More than Shelter

 

The largest affordable housing development to open in San Francisco in the past decade, Five88 Apartments is notable for design strategies that enhance the life of residents of both Five88 and the surrounding Mission Bay neighborhood. In addition to demonstrating the role of design in the overall success of a project, Five88 has contributed to the transformation of Mission Bay from an underused railyard to vibrant mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood while advancing city and state policy goals supporting affordable, sustainable, and transit-oriented development. Designed by David Baker Architects, Five88 received the 2018 American Institute of Architects/HUD Secretary’s Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award in recognition of the building’s superlative design, particularly as it responds to the needs and constraints of affordable housing. Developed by Related California and the Chinatown Community Development Center, the project adds nearly 200 units of affordable housing and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space to Mission Bay.

Five88 Apartments Design Strategies

The 5-story building, organized around a landscaped courtyard, contains 198 affordable units and 2 units that are reserved for building managers. Of the affordable units, 70 are one-bedroom and 128 are two-bedroom apartments; income limits are set at 50 percent of the area median income (AMI) for 40 units and 60 percent of AMI for 158 units. The distribution of unit sizes and the income limits reflect the developers’ vision that Five88 would function as workforce housing for families. As such, workers at San Francisco’s public institutions of higher education and public healthcare institutions are given priority for available units. More than 4,000 prospective tenants submitted applications for the lottery to determine who would get the affordable units. The hierarchy of preferences resulted in 50 units occupied by higher education or healthcare employees, 142 units occupied by people living or working in San Francisco, and 6 units by holders of Certificates of Preference, San Francisco’s tool for addressing displacement caused by past urban renewal projects. These priority preferences also align with the workforce needs of Mission Bay’s anchor institution, a campus of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Five88 incorporates several sustainable features. An array of rooftop solar panels provides hot water for the building, and drought-resistant landscaping reduces water use. To reduce the need for private automobiles and their contribution to atmospheric carbon, Five88 is located close to public transit and provides 252 secure bicycle parking spaces.

David Baker, principal of David Baker Architects, believes that good design elevates a project beyond its utilitarian function to enhance the lives of residents and neighbors alike. Different types of spaces within the building encourage social connection among residents. Certain spaces, such as the lobby and mailroom, promote fleeting but welcoming interactions, and other spaces, such as the courtyard and the laundry room, encourage residents to get to know one another through sustained interaction. Rather than being tucked away inside the building, the centrally located and highly visible laundry room features a large glass wall overlooking the courtyard play space, allowing parents to keep an eye on their children as they wash their clothes. The prominent courtyard encourages a robust social life at Five88, with amenities such as the play area and the communal grill. Ground-floor retail along one Five88 streetfront connects Mission Bay neighbors while helping to financially support the building.

Other strategies that the architects have deployed at Five88 are more aesthetic in nature while also improving residents’ well-being. For example, the building’s lobby features works by a local artist. The courtyard’s design draws inspiration from noted Brazilian modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Exterior elements of the building enhance the presence and attractiveness of Five88, sending a strong visual statement about affordable housing’s importance in building community vitality. Concentrated areas of premium materials on the façade create visual impact without significantly adding to the cost-sensitive construction budget of affordable housing. Above angled concrete pilotis along the first floor of one of Five88’s street façades, a weathered COR-TEN steel wall adds an aged, historic feel to the neighborhood that residents value. By enhancing the overall look of the building, thoughtful design elevates the social status of affordable housing and the overall quality of the neighborhood.

Five88 Financing

Five88 was made possible through several financing sources (table 1). Nearly half of the project financing was generated through the sale of 4 percent low-income housing tax credits to Wells Fargo, and Citi Community Capital (a division of Citibank dedicated to serving affordable housing developers) extended credit for the project. Public financing also played a role, including a redevelopment loan from the city of San Francisco, which also donated the land, valued at $34.5 million, for the project.

Table 1: Financing for Five88 Apartments

Wells Fargo Bank: low-income housing tax credit equity$35.4 million
Citi Community Capital: tax-exempt bond27.7 million
City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure: loan17.0 million
City and County of San Francisco: loan (accrued interest)1.1 million
Citi Community Capital: subordinate loan3.0 million
Total$84.2 million

Building a Vibrant New Neighborhood

Covering slightly more than 300 acres, including the Five88 site, the redevelopment of Mission Bay has been a significant undertaking since planning began in 1998. Five88 is helping to realize plans that call for affordable housing, business and employment opportunities, and sustainable development. The planned build-out envisions 6,400 new housing units with 1,800 (approximately 30 percent) being affordable to moderate-, low-, and very low-income households. The plans for Mission Bay also contemplate a new public school and a public library; 41 acres of new public open space, including a park adjacent to Five88; 4.4 million square feet of office space; and 419,000 square feet of retail space. Mission Bay is anchored by the UCSF biomedical research campus, which opened in phases beginning in 2003, and the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which opened in 2015. Upgraded infrastructure, such as streets and utilities, will help integrate the neighborhood into surrounding urban fabric. Plans also call for various smart growth strategies, which a California Sustainable Strategies initiative will help implement. Overall, Five88 represents both a significant addition to the supply of affordable housing in the Bay Area and a guidepost for ongoing efforts toward equitable and sustainable development.


 

Source:

American Institute of Architects. n.d. “2018 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Awards: Five88.” Accessed 11 December 2018; Joint interview with David Baker, principal, and Caroline Souza, associate, David Baker Architects, 19 November 2018; David Baker and Amit Price Patel. 2015. “11 Strategies for Building Community with Affordable Housing,” Urban Land, 13 February, 55–9; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. 2015. “Project Staff Report CA-15-816.” Accessed 11 December 2018; California Department of Housing and Community Development. 2010. “Catalyst Projects for California Sustainable Strategies Pilot Program.” Accessed 11 December 2018; City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. n.d. “Mission Bay.” Accessed 11 December 2018.

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Source:

American Institute of Architects. n.d. “2018 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Awards: Five88.” Accessed 11 December 2018; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. 2015. “Project Staff Report CA-15-816.” Accessed 11 December 2018; Joint interview with David Baker, principal, and Caroline Souza, associate, David Baker Architects, 19 November 2018; Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, City and County of San Francisco. 2018. “Marketing Outcomes Report.” Accessed 20 December 2018.

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Source:

City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. 2017. “Five88.” Accessed 11 December 2018.

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Source:

David Baker and Amit Price Patel. 2015. “11 Strategies for Building Community with Affordable Housing,” Urban Land, 13 February, 55–9; Joint interview with David Baker and Caroline Souza, associate, David Baker Architects, 19 November 2018.

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Source:

Joint interview with David Baker and Caroline Souza, associate, David Baker Architects, 19 November 2018; David Baker Architects. n.d. “9 Ways to Build Community with Urban Housing,” blog. Accessed 11 December 2018.

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Source:

California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. 2015. “Project Staff Report CA-15-816.” Accessed 11 December 2018; City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. 2015. “Affordable Housing Production Summary: Fiscal Year 2013–2014 & 2014–2015.” Accessed 20 December 2018; Document provided by Lisa Grady, senior project manager, Related California.

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Source:

City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. n.d. “Mission Bay.” Accessed 11 December 2018; City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. 2017. “Five88.” Accessed 11 December 2018; City and County of San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. n.d. “Mission Bay North and Mission Bay South Project Areas.” Accessed 20 December 2018; California Department of Housing and Community Development. 2010. “Catalyst Projects for California Sustainable Communities.” Accessed 11 December 2018.

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