David Baker Architects

Dwell Blog: Curran House

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By Suzanne LaGasa
Dwell Blog
October 5, 2007

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is no rag-tag neighborhood group. With 7,500 card-carrying members, they are a powerful force in the civic and political fabric of the city. This past Sunday, together with AIA San Francisco, they sponsored the Gems of the City architectural bike tour. Cruising by 11 out of the 25 buildings that AIA considers the city's finest, the tour expounded on the architectural merits of each gem.

Led by David Baker, of David Baker + Partners, the tour looped through downtown, from the Hallidie Building to Frank Lloyd Wright's Xanadu Gallery. On his old-fashioned bicycle, Baker pedaled along with 40 helmeted architecture lovers around a mixture of civic and residential buildings, from the new Federal Building to the mixed-use Plaza Apartments on 6th Street. Both buildings are LEED certified.

The tour also included a visit inside Curran House, an affordable housing apartment building designed by Baker, with landscape design by Andrea Cochran.

Densely populated at 223 units per acre--with neighborhood-serving retail, gardens, and common space--the building has no parking garage. Instead, it has a lush courtyard with a planted palm tree, a reflecting pool, and vibrant ferns. Below the courtyard, where limited parking would be, there is office space for building management. To top it off, Cochran's roof garden (which appeared in Dwell's September issue), is an economical landscape design with individualized planters and an inviting communal space, which provides the top floor laundry room with a bright skyline view.

We rode away from the Curran House with cosmos and marigolds vibrating in our retinas.