San Francisco Loft

San Francisco Loft

2014 AIA SF Interior Architecture, Merit Award

2014 Residential Architect Design Award, Interior Architecture

An interior renovation of a 1,200 SF loft in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

The owner had been living in the space since the early 90’s and was one of the first tenants in the original development. That project converted the building (completed in 1910) from a publishers shop and warehouse to loft apartment units. Having lived there for some time he came to us with a clear (though not uncomplicated) objective:

Combine the functionally discrete ‘private’ domestic programs of a living space with its more ‘public’ areas in a relatively compact space that would feel completely open and uninterrupted.

We responded to this charge with the insertion of two programmed sculptural elements: 1) a multi- sided ‘spine’ that moves from one end of the loft to the other and 2) a solid form that contains the necessarily enclosed bath and laundry areas.

The spine houses everyday domestic components (storage, dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets, etc...) while navigating the subtle boundaries between the entry, sleeping, kitchen and main living areas. The sleeping area and its closet are raised 3’-6” from the main living area with the spine forming a low border on two sides. This elevation change provides relative privacy to the raised sleeping area while the overall height of the spine (7’-0” measured from the main living area) allows the entire space to remain visually connected. A steel beam hidden in the spine supports the casework elements with hidden connections to the existing doug-fir columns. The casework elements are setup like ‘saddlebags’ on either side of the beam – on one side are dresser drawers serving the sleeping area and on the other kitchen upper cabinets. The beam allowed us to support these ‘weighty’ elements while leaving the area between the lower and upper cabinetry completely open. That space was then fitted with two single pieces of translucent glazing mitred at the corner. A continuous linear fluorescent fixture is concealed at the head of this glazing and washes it with light. This detail helps the casework appear to float (thus feeling less bulky and purely functional) and forms a sort of ‘lantern’ to provide ambient lighting at night.

The solid form is carved away (using steel and walnut doors and fixed panels) to reveal points of access to the bath and laundry room. These impressions on the otherwise blank plaster walls of the solid echo the materials and proportions of the more articulated spine and the whole forms a mute backdrop.

The material character of all of the elements designed for the space (blackened steel. Painted and walnut veneered casework, black granite and translucent glazing) was selected to complement and showcase the existing doug-fir columns, beams and ceiling without overpowering the space.