The ten recipients of the 2016 Housing Award — the American Institute of Architect's annual award for the best design of a residential building — have been announced. Among them is a local gem: 1180 Fourth Street, a 150-unit affordable apartment complex next to Mission Creek Park.
The city purchased 1180 Fourth in 2012 and turned it over to non-profit Mercy Housing, who converted the site into affordable housing and brought in San Francisco-based architects at Mithun and Kennerly Architecture & Planning to give the building a Jetsons-like vibe of escalating tiers and unexpected angles.
AIA judges were impressed by the building's layout, praising it for creating common spaces and shared avenues that bring residents and staff into frequent contact. They write: "These spaces are generous enough to allow residents from different income levels and backgrounds to meet each other comfortably and make friends. It is these social ties that will allow the most vulnerable to support each other."
Judges also praised the location, which provides "spectacular views" and puts the building right at the mouth of Mission Bay and, in effect, to the entire southeast wing of the city, while still not banishing residents far away from downtown or other busy central neighborhoods.
In short, the judges dug that stakeholders opted not to just build a box for low-income residents (a third of whom are formerly homeless) but to erect a signature building instead.
The AIA is professional organization founded in 1857 and counting some 83,000-plus architects as members, headquartered in an octagon house in Washington DC. Also included in this year's honorees was the Hog Pen Creek Retreat in Austin, a home built for "a Bay Area Couple looking to return to their Texas roots."