The last day of Dwell on Design brought fogless, downright hot weather to San Francisco. A perfect day to take a ride around the city and check out some residential gems. Guest writer Maryam Rostami braved the hills on on two wheels to scout AIA San Francisco Home Tours by bicycle! She picked her two favorites and gave us this report:

Residences on the AIA Homes Tour ranged from affordable to luxe. The most remarkable spanned that spectrum, from David Baker + Partners’ Curran House to Kuth/Ranieri Architects’ Wurster Residence Renovation. We begin with Curran House, in the notoriously gritty Tenderloin neighborhood…

The Curran House sets an example for what can be done in a neighborhood with a rough image. The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s executive director, Don Falk, was on site during the tour to explain the process and the context of the project. According to Falk, the TNDC houses about 2,400 people. At the Curran House, 60% of the residents make less than $10,000 per year.

curran house david baker architects low income affordable housing urban design dwell

Curran House sits on a site that was once a parking garage. From the street, balconies and changes in plane divide what would have otherwise appeared as a massive monolith. The quality of common space at the Curran House also lends itself to intimacy. Off the street, a space between the front door and front gate is abundantly planted, automatically providing some transition from the activity in the Tenderloin. At the opposite end of the lobby – which is ample and inviting in its own right – is a contemplation garden, complete with a rectangular fountain and wabi-sabi wood benches.

David Baker admits that the roof garden was taken in and out of the project due to budget restraints several times. That battle seems to have been worth it to the residents, who have planted vegetables and herbs in large troughs on the roof deck. One of the best parts is the “pre-graffiti” which is painted on an exterior door. Absolutely brilliant — using the very thing they way to prevent as a preventative measure in itself. And it works! David told us that the only additional “wall art” that’s been added as been a handful of children’s stickers.

At the Wurster House, a fertile entry courtyard gives way to a large double-height space, sparsely furnished and meant to serve as live/work space for the owners: a textile designer and her husband, a photographer/publisher. Many of the walls remain in their original places, expressed as vertically arranged wood siding, painted white. A great deal of the wood that was scrapped from the original home was used in built-in furniture and fixtures designed by the Kuth/Ranieri team. A large sliding door that is used to close off the guest suite from the great room is composed with the salvaged wood paneling.

wurster house kuth/ranieri architects housing urban design dwell

The second level is meant as private space. Light pours in from large windows, which provide views to the bay and surrounding neighborhoods. Particulars like poured resin countertops with exposed side details demonstrate the meticulousness of the design intent and execution. Upstairs, some angular furniture pieces have been introduced also using reincarnated paneling.

Though the original house was clearly ordered with care, Kuth/Ranieri’s renovation has helped transform the home into a perfect zone for the recovering obsessive compulsive: impeccable details and planes line up and make luscious sense, but fall to the background when it comes to framing the clients’ lives and personal objects.

+ AIA San Francisco Home Tours
+ David Baker + Partners
+ Kuth/Ranieri