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Bay Area’s best new building projects of 2017: Year in review

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Informed experts and notables reveal what newfangled projects stood out most this year

Photo by Patricia Chang

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked informed locals in architectural, design, advocacy, and x-factor industries to give us their thoughts on 2017. Revealed here are their favorite building projects of the year.


↑ Anne Fougeron (architect/founder, Fougeron Architecture):

No great new building for me this year but I am very excited about the Transbay neighborhood which is going to be a great new place in SF. It is not about one particular project but the combination of buildings and streetscape revitalizing a whole area.”

Victoria Fierce (organizer with East Bay for Everyone):

“Depends on what you mean by new! Overall, it'd definitely be the MacArthur Mammoth. It got approved this year, bringing a large tower, affordable housing, and over 400 homes to MacArthur BART! It hasn't broken ground yet, but it’s a huge frickin’ deal. If you mean project that has broken ground, I would say 1314 Franklin. Its replacing the giant city-block-sized parking deck in downtown Oakland less than a block from BART with the city's largest residential tower. I'm pretty excited to see a boring parking deck be replaced with a vibrant residential community. Homes matter so, so, so, so, so much more to me than subsidizing Big Oil through affordable parking of private automobiles.”

Malo André Hutson (professor of urban planning, U.C. Berkeley):

“Pretty much any new housing for families, the homeless and those who are less fortunate. A plus if it was near public transit lines.”

Rendering courtesy of Perkins Eastman / Neighborland

Sally Kuchar (cities director, Curbed):

“I'm not sure about best, but the one I'm most excited about is the Castro's Harvey Milk Plaza redesign by local firm Perkins Eastman. Many folks feel squeezed out by San Francisco's latest cultural shift and continued housing crisis, so the idea of a public open space that serves as a ramped amphitheater with seating for many and a spot for continued activism provides reprieve in a city that feels less inclusive with each new day.”

Mark Jensen (principal architect, Jensen Architects):

“The best new building is the ‘Painted Lady’ portable toilet on Haight Street. This latest addition to SF’s ‘pitstop’ public toilet program is not normally my cup of tea architecturally but hey, whatever it takes to address this urgent need in the City.”

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↑ Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

181 Fremont. While still under construction the building’s residential units are really on the next level (well, maybe the 60th level). From hard-hat tours, we’ve seen that the finishes are nothing short of what you’d expect them to be if it takes a six-minute video just to explain how they were all sourced.”

Adam Brinklow (associate editor, Curbed SF):

“I'm still holding out to say the Baylands. There's a couple of weeks left in the year; plenty of time for a Christmas miracle to come through for the site.”

Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR):

“I'm a fan of the Minnesota Street Project. It's a beautiful project and I'd love to see more people of means in the Bay Area commit to the sort of support for the arts that the Rappoports have done here. I'm also a huge fan of the recent renovation by Red Dot Studio in Glen Park; such a refreshing counterpoint to most of the single family McMansion-but-modern renovations I'm seeing everywhere.”

Richie Nakano (chef, restaurateur, consultant at ChefsFeed):

“It’s very tiny, but Whitecap, a little bar at the bottom of Taraval is really cool. There’s a cozy bar up front, and wood paneled walls in the back with high tables and a fire place that somehow manages to feel homey, yet modern. Out front are those big jade benches the city put in a couple years ago, and it all kind of butts up against each other in this weird, cool way.”

↑ Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine):

Proper Hotel. We finally have a Kelly Wearstler project in SF and she brought ALL OF THE DESIGN. Possibility because my job is to look at interior design and architecture projects all day long, but I need a stronger hit to get me really excited, and the Proper provides it at every turn. Plus, everyone who goes there needs to know this: Those wild wallpaper patterns? The textiles? The rad lighting? She didn't just shop for that stuff, she designed it herself. She's the real deal. Invite me to Charmaine's for a cocktail any day.”

Rendering produced by Transparent House, courtesy of FivePoint Holdings

Marcel Wilson (founder/design director, Bionic; 2017 Curbed Groundbreaker):

“Phase one of the Hunters Point Shipyard. It is great to see the decades of investment taking shape.”

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

1598 Bay Street—top quality buildout in a prime Marina location with killer park views on one side and bay views on the other.”

↑ David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects):

Bill Sorro Community by Owen Kennerly (Kennerly Architecture and Planning) and Mercy Housing. This is the former Hugo Hotel, which stood empty at Sixth and Howard since the ’80s. It's great to finally have an active building there with homes for more than 60 families. The design is sharp and bright and welcoming. Owen is talented—and also nice.”

Transbay Transit Center

85 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA

181 Fremont

181 Fremont Street, San Francisco, CA