David Baker Architects


Beyond Expectations PDF IconDbp-spring'07-dfl-beyond-dore

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By Joan Chatfield Taylor
Design For Living
Spring 2007


Imaginative design and refined detail have lifted the structures beyond the limitations of cost, site or building regulations.

For instance, the Folsom Dore building is broken up into sections painted green, orange, and deep purple, suggesting a row of houses rather than a large development. The facade is further broken up by little niches of bamboo plants and by generous setbacks that allow many of the apartments to have balconies. These devices have transformed a once seedy and trash-littered block into a pleasant place to walk.

The building has its own community room and playground, family-friendly additions in an area devoid of spaces for children to play. These extra amenities were possible partly because architect David Baker, FAIA reduced the amount of garage space, reasoning that plenty of public transportation is available and most of the residents don't own cars.

These award-winning designs show a remarkable respect for both their occupants and their neighbors. Although they were created for specific low-income or nonresidential sites, they make a positive contribution to the ongoing discourse about high-density, urban dwellings at all price levels.
Architectural successes come in a variety of sizes. Some of the most thoughtful award-winning designs are modest mixed-use buildings in busy urban neighborhoods.