Best Live-Work Lofts - 2002
Yerba Buena Lofts
In San Francisco, Brigadoon by the Sea, the prospect of change has all the appeal of a mudslide. Locals pine for the Victorian days when Third Street stank of slaughterhouses, the piers ached with day-laboring longshoremen, and the western half of the city was covered in sand. As a result, San Franciscans bicker bitterly over new buildings, and the Planning Commission tends to blanch at all but the blandest new structures. It's thus surprising that architect Stanley Saitowitz was able to get away with designing the lovely, modern Yerba Buena Lofts live-work apartment complex in the South of Market. It's true that hundreds of the live-work units erected during the past five years were downtown versions of Daly City ticky tacky: stud-and-stucco boxes erected without a mind to longevity, either aesthetic or physical. The Yerba Buena building is different: It's a monolithic poured-concrete masterpiece whose staggered windowpanes resemble what a beehive might look like if its hexagonal cubicles went square. And unlike other new city housing, it lacks the superficial contextualism of faux-Victorian bay windows. Instead, this building is unique, avant-garde, unabashedly contemporary, and beautiful in such a way that a pedestrian can stand next to it and feel warm -- as if Brigadoon had woken up for good.