Shotwell Design Lab All projects, Apartments, Custom, Green, Re-Use, San Francisco
San Francisco, California

large image slideshow | project details

Shotwell Street in the evening.

Custom modern aluminum front door leads to the upstairs apartment.

David Baker's home and workspace, two levels share an austere-yet-quirky yard and freestanding woodshop. The modest living quarters flank a sun-filled multipurpose room that extends onto a glass deck. Downstairs houses a private apartment and art studio-gallery space that opens to the street.

Aluminum front entry stair, glass partition, and James Benn light fixtures.

Dining room table designed by David Baker, fabricated by Thomas Jameson in 1989.


At the top of the stairs is a large room with an asymmetrically sloped high ceiling. It's a very flexible space with functional service areas—a kitchen, pantry, office, and library—located behind shoji screens fabricated from fiberglass, bamboo, and aluminum.

Kitchen with Shoji doors closed partially to screen but allow access.

Kitchen pantry detail with Heath dishes.


The kitchen, pantry, office, and library zone runs the entire length of one wall and is screened from the big room with fiberglass, bamboo, and aluminum screens that can be arranged for different degrees of permeability.

Inset shelf in the bathroom.

Light comes in from a high skylight along the curved tile wall.

WC The bathroom is small in floor area, but has a tall ceiling with a daylight scoop at the top.

Plyboo shelves in the pantry.

bamboo built-ins

interior doors, shelves, and furniture are fabricated from plyboo, a plywood made from sustainable fast-growing bamboo.

The courtyard in 2013. Image: Brian Rose

Urban garden: Plants thrive on the sunny glass deck.

rain garden

The rear yard is landscaped with permeable surfaces as a rain garden. Storm water runoff from the roof is directed to rusting steel planters filled with bamboo and horsetail plants, where it is allowed to infiltrate the natural water table.

The rear deck surface is textured glass, which allows maximum light to penetrate into this space with high concrete walls on two sides.

The WHY sign is part of the iconic 17 Reasons Why sign that used to be on top of a building at 17th and Mission streets. It is being saved for future installation in a public space.

The passage was originally for horses to the stable in the rear. Image: Matthew Millman

Artist Andrew Schoultz working on his mural in the pedestrian passage to the rear courtyard.


This 62 foot long mural was painted in 2009 by Mission Street Style artist Andrew Schoultz.

A 2.0 KW solar photovoltaic collection array made up of 12 Sharp NE-Q5E2U 165 watt panels is mounted on the roof.

sustainable features

  • 2.0K solar electric system generating over half of electrical power on site. 
  • Solar domestic hot water collection system providing over half of water heating needs.
  • Digital dimming lighting controls on all lights to reduce consumption and extend bulb life.
  • Small-scale appliances: under-counter refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher.
  • Passive solar design: high thermal mass, polished concrete floors, and south-facing clerestory warm the living areas.
  • Casework and wood doors made from rapidly renewable material: bamboo plywood.
  • Walls insulated with ground recycled denim batting.
  • Rain garden system diverts roof water runoff from city sewage system and into local aquifers.
  • Permeable infiltration garden and pavers in city public sidewalk intercept storm water runoff in public right of way.


We've built a LEED for Homes Platinum, Passivhaus Certified, Net Zero building in the rear courtyard of the Shotwell Design Lab:

Zero Cottage


Mission Statement

project details


David Baker Architects

Associated Designer

Shift Design Studio


project data
Shotwell Design Lab  
San Francisco, California
Completed January 2014
StoreFrontLab 530sf
Shotwell Garden Apartment 430sf
339 Shotwell Flat 1575sf
DBA Workshop 400sf
Zero Cottage 712sf
density ratios
project sf  
site sf 3062.5sf
acres 0.7
total bedrooms 4
bedrooms/acre 57
units/acre  43
automobile   0
bicycle 3
certifications (Zero Cottage)
LEED for Homes Platinum, GreenPoint Rated,
Passive House, Net Zero