David Baker Architects

Armstrong Senior

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View of Corner of Third and Bancroft with Carroll Street MUNI Station in foreground. Image: Brian Rose

Armstrong Senior was designed and built in tandem with Armstrong Place. Together the projects won a 2012 ULI Global Award for Excellence noting their effect as a catalyst for development in the neighborhood. The Urban Land Institute's Global Awards for Excellence recognize developments that have an enduring impact on diverse communities.



The corner of Third Street and Armstrong Street. Image: Brian Rose

Located in San Francisco’s Bayview District, this affordable senior housing complex is served by a nearby stop of the Third Street Rail, the new Muni line. These four levels of senior housing above neighborhood-serving retail are part of a larger trend of transit-oriented development along this corridor, and will catalyze future such projects, bringing density, variety and services to the area. Armstrong Senior Housing is a HUD 202 project.

PDF IconDfar-insights-and-innovations

Above: The DFAR11 Insights Study provides a more comprehensive look at statistics, patterns, and innovations impacting the senior living industry and design community.



"Just... fun! The architect takes a complex program and enlivens it and creates a wonderfully playful place. Joyful, bold, and full of life...this shows a great collaboration of site, purpose, and design."

—2011 AIA Housing Awards jury

The "fabric" patterned circulation at the main entry gap off Third Street. Image: Brian Rose

PDF IconArmstrong-leed-nc-checklist

Check out the PDF of Armstrong's LEED New Construction project checklist.


Click here to see the solar performance of Armstrong Senior Housing.

Courtyard plan sketch.

The manager of Armstrong Senior, Woody, brought in these traditional wood fired smokers to supplement the natural gas fired BBQ we specified.

The bi-level entry courtyard. Image: Brian Rose

View of the main courtyard looking out towards the street with the Rain Garden in the foreground. Image: Brian Rose

Concept sketch of African "fabric" wall.

Colors and patterns found in traditional African textiles informed the exterior aesthetic of the building.

To reflect the historically African-American population of the neighborhood, the color palette is drawn from traditional African textiles—the deep indigos and bright accents of Ghanian dutch wax resist fabrics—which along with the window placement, appears to wrap the public face of the building in an interlocking “quilt” of color and pattern. The private side is cloaked in the more subdued tones drawn from the earthy hues of Malian mudcloth.

The residences—predominantly studios and one-bedroom units—enclose a courtyard and sit atop commercial space set to house shops, senior services, a library, and a community center. The unique landscaping—vegetated bioswales along the street and mews, and a courtyard rain garden—does double-duty, adding green areas and creating miniature wetlands that manages runoff, easing the burden on the city's combined stormwater and sewage system.

This project was designed and built to a LEED Gold standard, with healthy interiors for senior residents. Photovoltaic arrays will provide solar electric power and domestic hot water.

Parking is reduced to realistically reflect the auto-ownership of the population and capture additional square footage for retail services. There is a car-share pod with two available vehicles as well as secure bicycle parking. The retail space features a dedicated shower and changing area, to facilitate bicycle commuting.
Click here to see the solar performance of Armstrong Senior Housing.

Bancroft Street elevation of Armstrong Senior. Image: Brian Rose

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Armstrong Senior podium level plan.

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Armstrong Senior ground level plan.

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Aerial view from southeast with Armstrong Senior Housing at the right and Armstrong Place to the left.



The senior housing shares a block with Armstrong Place, an affordable family townhouse development also designed by David Baker Architects. The two projects are separated by a landscaped public pedestrian way.

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Armstrong Senior Housing and Armstrong Place Townhouses help keep families in San Francisco. Image: Steve Proehl

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

View from Park across Third Street to Armstrong Senior. Image: Brian Rose

Third Street view of Armstrong Senior. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

The main entry to Armstrong Senior. Image: Brian Rose

The entry court with Ashanti symbols cast into the concrete walls and circulation bridge over. Image: Brian Rose

Looking back out towards the street in the Feng Shui compliant entry courtyard. Image: Brian Rose

The upper level of the courtyard with outdoor space for the residents and lounge "pod" off the corridor looking down. Image: Brian Rose

The Third Street elevation looking south. Image: Brian Rose

The Armstrong Street elevation showing the public "retail" entry to the community room and the car-share pod. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Steve Proehl

Armstrong Senior entryway and courtyard. Image: Steve Proehl

Image: Steve Proehl

Image: Tom Seawall

Image: Tom Seawall

Bike room!

The freshly planted pedestrian mews runs between Armstrong Senior and Armstrong Place.

The fabric circulation wall and the metal pod.

The entry court looking down.

Plyboo benches make for a good resting spot between floors in the stair tower.

Rocking the courtyard at Armstrong Senior during Black Cuisine 2012.

Hard at work in the Armstrong Senior community room judging the Black Cuisine 2012 Cooking Contest.

Bioswales will line Bancroft and Armstrong avenues.

The PV solar array on the roof of Armstrong Senior Affordable Housing.

Pedestrian oriented retail at Armstrong Senior.

Retail at the corner of Armstrong Senior.

The interior of the Wing Stop on the corner of Armstrong Senior.

Site plan of Armstrong Senior and Place.

Mia Bhimani and Ian Dunn navigate the construction at Armstrong Senior.

Ashanti symbols are being cast into the courtyards concrete walls.

Signage sharing the meaning of the courtyard Adinkra symbols.

The construction crane in the courtyard in October, 2009.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell visits on a SPUR hardhat tour.

The view from the MUNI Metro station of Armstrong Senior under construction in October of 2009.

The view from the Carrol Muni Metro stop. 03.15.2010

Kevin Griffith of BRIDGE showing off the final "brush outs" of the "fabric wall" colors.

A painter doing touch-up puts each blue tape marker on his shirt as he completes each task.

"Quilt wall" in progress.

Courtyard, almost complete.

Nearly completed Armstrong Senior Affordable Housing, viewed from Bayview Park.

A part of the exterior skin is almost complete.











Armstrong Senior Housing achieved LEED Gold Certification in September 2011.

Main residential entrance on Third Street. The final color scheme is red with a metal bay.

Main residential entrance on Third Street. (alternate blue fabric scheme)

The courtyard incorporates planting strategies that add green space and manage storm-water.

The courtyard incorporates planting strategies that add green space and manage storm-water. (alternate blue fabric scheme)

Third Street elevation from across the park.

Third Street elevation from across the park. (alternate blue fabric scheme)

Final view from across Third Street to the North.

View from across Third Street to the North. (alternate blue fabric scheme)

Retail vignette.

the site is the green rectangle in the Bayview District.

Join us in the Bayview on March 2 for the 33rd Annual Black Cuisine Festival, featuring live music, soul food, street activities, a marketplace and more!

Armstrong Senior services include events like this resource fair.


2012 Global Award for Excellence
Urban Land Institute
Builder's Choice Merit Award—Best Affordable/Workforce Housing
Builder Magazine
Design for Aging Review Merit Award
AIA Design for Aging Knowledge Community
2011 Best Projects
Engineering News-Record
AIA Housing Award
American Institute of Architects


Iconoclast of Design

project details


Affordable Housing, All Projects, BRIDGE Housing, HUD, LEED, San Francisco, Senior Housing


San Francisco, California


BRIDGE Housing

Affiliated Government Agency

San Francisco Redevelopment Agency

Affiliated Government Agency



David Baker Architects

Associate Architect

Full-Circle Design Group

Structural Engineer

Structural Design Engineers

Electrical Engineer

Bhatia Associates

Lighting Designer

Horton Lees Brogden

Geotech Engineer

Treadwell + Rollo

Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer

Tommy Siu + Associates

Acoustical Engineer

Wilson Ihrig + Associates

Solar Contractor

Sun Light & Power


Nibbi Brothers General Contractors

Civil Engineer

Luk + Associates



project data
Armstrong Senior Housing
Armstrong + 3rd streets
San Francisco, California
Completed August 2010
number of units
1 bedroom 115
2 bedroom (manager)
total 116
retail sf 7,500
density ratios
project sf 131,800
site sf 35,000
acres 0.8
total bedrooms 117
bedrooms/acre 146
units/acre 145
total 31
spaces/unit .27
type garage
September 2011