David Baker Architects is a San Francisco and Oakland based design firm specializing in affordable housing, green building, and transit-oriented development. David Baker founded the firm in 1982, and it has since set the model for public housing in many cities. Baker’s work focuses on the integration of elegant, contemporary aesthetics with assertive energy-conservation measures, mixed with genuine humanity.
Throughout their history, David Baker Architects has designed and built more than 10,000 dwelling units, including more than 6,000 affordable units throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, garnering more than 300 local and national design awards, certifications and accolades in the process.
Behind the numbers, the firm’s work evinces a sincere commitment to doing affordable housing well, rather than just making housing affordable.
Many of the firm’s projects have received considerable media attention, as much for their aesthetic triumphs as for their rejuvenative effects on the neighborhoods in which they’re built.
The Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments encompass many of the values and strategies typical of DBA’s work. Set in the trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood in San Francisco, the project was developed after earthquake-collapsed freeway onramp was removed. The project was intended to serve the formerly homeless, and initially drew the predictable skepticism and protest from those already living in the neighborhood. Even in progressive San Francisco, the enthusiasm for new dwellings for the formerly homeless was low.
The New York Times said about the Richardson Apartments: “his design goes beyond housing some of a wealthy city’s poorest citizens. It entails healthy urbanism, including features that open the building to the neighborhood instead of making it a fortress. . .”
Openness and integration aptly describe DBA’s approach to housing. Social housing is something that needs support from the local community, and the community needs to be heard about their concerns and educated about the perceived vices and dangers that come along with social housing. However, when a design begins with the intent to create whole community, unifying populations at all ends of the social spectrum, the results tend to do just that.
Learn more about DBA and their work at the links below.