David Baker Architects

Armstrong Place

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The south elevation of Armstrong Place from Bancroft Street. Image: Brian Rose


The entry courtyards face Bancroft Street. Image: Brian Rose

This project was designed and built in tandem with Armstrong Senior. 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.



Located in San Francisco’s Bayview District, this affordable family townhouse community is part of a trend of transit-oriented development along Third Street, and lies just a block from a stop of the new Muni Third Street Light Rail. It was designed and built in conjunction with the adjacent Armstrong Senior Housing, which brings new neighborhood-serving retail space and community services to the area.

Two sections of stacked townhouses flank a large shared open public courtyard and also each feature a private gated courtyard. The central public courtyard features allotment gardens for families to grow food and flowers, as well as a rain garden to manage and clean stormwater biodynamically.
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Armstrong Place encloses an at grade courtyard with play area and allotment garden plots. Image: Brian Rose

Main Courtyard


The buildings surround a large open courtyard with a play zone, vegetable gardens, and stormwater management features.

Image: Brian Rose

The play area in the main courtyard of Armstrong Place. Image: Brian Rose

Stacked Townhouses


The townhomes have a unique configuration, stacking an “upside down” townhouse on top of one with a more conventional plan. The lower level homes are entered directly from the podium level and in many units, via stoops from the sidewalk, into the main living level, with the bedrooms upstairs. The upper townhouses are entered from elevated fourth floor catwalks into the living level and descend to the bedroom area downstairs. This arrangement keeps the private quarters above street level, manages internal noise by not having active spaces above neighbors’ bedrooms and avoids public walkways along bedroom levels. More than half of the homes have three or four bedrooms, to accommodate growing families.

Section showing "upside down" townhouse stacked over a townhouse.

The smaller courtyards have pergola seating areas.

Private Courtyards


Two additional courtyards are located above the half level depressed concrete parking structure. These smaller spaces are ring by the third level open air circulation balcony.

The picnic lamp over the table trellis in the small courtyards.

Conceptual sketch of the courtyard by Amanda Loper

The two small courtyards are over the structured parking. They provide cross ventilation for the townhouses. Image: Brian Rose

Mendell Townhomes


Additionally ten three-story townhomes with private garages line Mendell Street, which is designed with pedestrian-friendly features such as pavers and extensive plantings. Surrounding the development, the street edge is lined with curbside bioswales—landscaped swaths that add green and collect and manage stormwater runoff.

Armstrong Place is separated from Armstrong Senior Housing by a landscaped pedestrian way linking Armstrong and Bancroft streets.

Duplex townhomes turn the corner at Bancroft and Mendel. Image: Brian Rose

A freestanding row of duplex townhomes is located in the triangular piece of the site facing the railroad and Mendel, a new street built as part of the project. Image: Brian Rose

"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

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Site plan with podium level units.

David Baker + Partners Architects
download supplemental PDF of project images.
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Armstrong Place, Armstrong Senior, and San Francisco Bay. Image: Steve Proehl

A neighboring Victorian across Armstrong Street from Armstrong Place. Image: Brian Rose

Armstrong Place elevation along Armstrong Street. Image: Brian Rose

Detail view of the Bancroft Street elevation. Image: Brian Rose

Image: Brian Rose

Image: Steve Proehl

The grand courtyard at Armstrong Place, with community garden plots awaiting their plants. Image: Steve Proehl

The view from Paul Street RR bridge.

The view from Williams and Shoup Streets.

The view from across the Caltrain tracks during construction.

View from across the CalTrain tracks with a train!

The Bancroft Street elevation.

Stoops face Bancroft Street.

Stoops enliven the Bancroft Street frontage.

These entry stoops land on the pedestrian mews linking Bancroft and Armstrong Streets.

Entry courtyard with blue L gate.

The entry courtyard faces Bancroft Street.

The gate kiosk provides a sense of entry as well as shelter from the weather while you're using the intercom.

Entry stair at night.

Entry stair from above at night.

This pedestrian passage leads from Bancroft Street into the main courtyard.

The main courtyard.

The main courtyard.

The main courtyard.

View of the large courtyard.

A view of the large courtyard with childrens play area.

Kids at play: The tot lot in action.

Courtyard at night. The planters will soon be filled with vegetables and plants.

Circulation balconies on the main courtyard.

Randomly arranged color stains on the cedar patio fence.

This red door provides access to one of the private small courtyards.

The residents share this street level community room.

The community room kitchen features Heath tile and Studio Becker cabinets.

The street level gym.

The secure bike parking rooms at Armstrong place are located by the front doors. The use the bikeparking.com "Vertirack II" system which is the product we recommend in this situation.

A townhouse interior.

View of a townhome interior looking from the kitchen through to the living room and front door.

Townhome living room.

The master bedroom of this townhome is on the third level.

Construction begins on Armstrong Place.

Aerial view of the first stage of construction.

Kevin Wilcock figuring something out.

Amanda, Angela, and Kevin in the large courtyard.

Bay at pedestrian way and Bancroft Avenue.

Townhouses along Mendell Street.

Entry court..

cad: Elevation along Bancroft Avenue shows stacked townhomes.

Townhomes along Bancroft.

Stoops along Armstrong Avenue.

Bancroft Avenue street view.

Conceptual sketch by Amanda Loper of the Trellis Cube in the courtyard.

Updated aerial from southeast of Armstrong Place.

Aerial from southeast with Armstrong Place on the left.

Armstrong Place and Armstrong Senior combined site plan

aerial showing the site, a green rectangle, in th Bayview in relation to downtown San Francisco

Satellite vicinity map with project site plan.


2012 Global Award for Excellence
Urban Land Institute
Gold Nugget Merit Award—Multi-Generational Concepts
Pacific Coast Builders Conference
Builder's Choice Merit Award—Best Affordable/Workforce Housing
Builder Magazine
MFE Affordable Project of the Year
Multi-Family Executive Magazine
Real Estate Deals of the Year—Affordable Housing (In San Francisco)
San Francisco Business Times
AIA Housing Award
American Institute of Architects

project details


Affordable Housing, All Projects, BRIDGE Housing, San Francisco, Townhouses


San Francisco, California


BRIDGE Housing

Affiliated Government Agency

San Francisco Redevelopment Agency


David Baker Architects

Associate Architect

TSH International

Landscape Architect

Adrienne Wong Associates

Structural Engineer

OLMM Consulting 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


Roberts-Obayashi Corporation

Civil Engineer

Luk + Associates



project data
Armstrong Place
Armstrong + 3rd streets
San Francisco, California
Completed January 2010
number of units
2 bedroom 52
3 bedroom 48
4 bedroom 24
total 124
density ratios
project sf 238,400
site sf 101,700
acres 2.33
total bedrooms 344
bedrooms/acre 148
units/acre 53
total 124
spaces/unit 1
type garage