David Baker Architects

Blue Star Corner

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LEED for homes Certified 2007

Blue Star Corner as seen from the other side of the tracks.

Blue Star Corner's townhouse rows face each other across intimate shared courtyards.

Developing high-density housing on small urban infill sites while maintaining plentiful light, air, and open space can be a challenge. This 20-unit townhouse project begins by drawing inspiration from both Dutch rowhouses and British garden mews.

The tall, narrow townhomes face each other across semi-private patios and landscaped courtyards. Garden paths lead past front landings to a shared grove courtyard lined with benches and public art—a series of kinetic steel birdhouse sculptures made by a local artist.

Four distinctive buildings house 20 unique townhomes.

"1% for Art" in the form of stainless steel gimbaled bird houses by artist Walter Craven (www.blankandcables.com).

View from roof of neighboring 1500 Park Lofts building.

Mews sketch section by CMG Landscape Architects.

The simple arrangement of the four buildings on a long, narrow half-acre site results in a density of 44 units per acre. Each row of attached homes is flanked by a shared courtyard shaded with native, drought-tolerant plantings on one side, and a permeable-paved auto court on the other.

Each individual house has a unique facade and fenestration, adding individuality to the concept of community living, as well as personal outdoor space complemented by the shared gardens. The project maximizes a small urban infill site yet maintains more than one-fourth of the property as green open space. These infill homes make use of existing parks, public transit, and walkable and bikeable streets, strengthening a sense of community and ownership while promoting alternate forms of transit.

The entertainment room.

A built-in padded relaxation nook is ideal for reading or movie-watching.

Seen from below the entertainment loft, the double-height living room features a towering window and flexible shelving.

This project is the first multi-family attached housing development in the state certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's pilot LEED for Homes program, which sets the standard for green building. The decision to use sustainable elements throughout—including bamboo flooring, low-flow plumbing fixtures, Energy Star appliances, fly-ash concrete, and drought-tolerant landscaping—added only $1,500 per each market-rate ownership townhouse to the overall  project.

The modern townhouses—all LEED for Homes-certified—range in size from 1,300 to 1,700 square feet, with living spaces creatively stacked in three and four levels on a modest footprint with economy and elegance. The homes, consciously smaller than the national average, feature multi-use spaces that combine luxury with practical flexibility. Full advantage is taken of the height of each unit, with private steam rooms tucked under stairways and upholstered “chill pods” nested in the mezzanines that bisect the double-height living rooms. 

Convenient amenities in the garage keep the kitchen uncluttered.

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A photograph taken from a passing Amtrak Capitol Corridor train.

Blue Star Corner from across the train tracks..

Halleck Street west elevation CAD drawing.

Raw 4-D Revit digital model view of Halleck elevation.

Perspective computer generated rendering of Halleck Street elevation.

Halleck Street elevation.

Townhouse rows feature a diversity of floorplans.

End units feature popped-out bays.

New landscaping takes root in the communal courtyard.

Green throughway with garden path passes by front doors.

The garden maximizes the space at the property edge.

"1% for Art" in the form of stainless steel gimbaled bird houses by artist Walter Craven (www.blankandcables.com).

Facade view from above.

Private garages punctuate the back of the third building.

Cable planters insert green into the parking mews.

Detail of garages.

View of townhouse front along mews.

Sherwin Street view.

The transformer is screened from view with this wood and steel fence.

This wood and metal screen hides the gas meters.

Flexible spaces: Office by day...

Guest room by night.

Open the door and the kitchen becomes a balcony.

The in the wall wireless Ipod dock.

Relaxing spaces.

The master bath features double sinks and a soaking tub.

The top floor bedroom is open yet private.

Perspective computer generated rendering of Sherwin Avenue elevation.

Revit digital model 3D view of a mews elevation.

Section model.

Building facade model.

Kevin Wilcock AIA came up with the simple but elegant site plan concept in 2003.

Aerial site plan.

Aerial site plan. Blue Star corner in top right corner on Halleck Street and Sherwin Avenue. Emeryville Warehouse Lofts along Hubbard Street and Park Avenue.

Unit plans are nicknamed in Dutch - a nod to the project's inspiration.

Unit plans are nicknamed in Dutch - a nod to their inspiration.

Unit plans are nicknamed in Dutch.

A trip to Amsterdam where we saw these new "canal houses" inspired the developer to re-interpret this high density, but individual, housing typology.


Gold Nugget Award of Merit—Best Sustainable Community, Attached
Pacific Coast Builders Conference
2008 Exceptional Residential—Bay Area Regional Design Merit Award
East Bay Chapter, American Institute of Architects
Citation Award—Excellence in Architecture
San Francisco Chapter, American Institute of Architects


A Clean Commute
A Community of Entrepreneurs
Iconoclast of Design
New Urban Mews
2007 East Bay Urban Living Home Tour
Dutch Crunch
S.F. Joins the Green Trend

project details


All Projects, LEED, Market-Rate, Townhouses


Emeryville, California


Holliday Development


David Baker Architects

Landscape Architect

CMG Landscape Architects

Structural Engineer

Tipping Mar + Associates

Lighting Designer

Xanders Design Group


Bjork Construction

Civil Engineer




project data
Blue Star Corner
Halleck Street + Sherwin Avenue    
Emeryville, California
Completed July 2007
number of units
1 bedroom 16
2 bedroom 4
total 20
density ratios
project sf 30,582
site sf 20,082
acres 0.46
total bedrooms 24
bedrooms/acre 52
units/acre 43
total 27
spaces/unit 1.35
type private
LEED for Homes
August 2007