You might say that 855 Brannan Street in San Francisco is largely about making connections, and in some ways, this has always been its story. First built up in the early 20th century as a freight depot abutting a train track, today, the site is occupied by a LEED Platinum–certified mixed-use development by local firm David Baker Architects—a project that itself is a connector between architecture and city, indoors and outdoors, place and history.
Occupying four block-filling acres, its 449 apartments—which include 15 street-level flex lofts that support living, working, or live-work occupancy—feature variously patterned weathering and galvanized steel facades that allude to the area’s industrial past. The buildings’ various faces have dynamic, textile-inspired textures: On one, a pleated face that is wavy and clad with a composite rainscreen; on another, a corduroy-like exterior made from vertical standing-seam metals; on yet another, an eyelet pattern of irregular window openings set into white cement plaster. Baker’s office worked with the demolition team to recover 10,000 feet of Douglas fir timber from the building that most recently occupied the site, the Concourse Exhibition Center. That wood was then milled and reused in ceilings, walls, bars, and benches, lending warmth and re-inserting the site’s past into common areas.