Rundown, abandoned buildings are the ruin of urban neighborhoods. Standing empty for too long, these buildings often fall into disrepair, inviting unsavory pests of all shapes and sizes to set up residence within. Instead of avoiding the former Arc Light Company building HKS Architects Inc. decided to embrace its size and potential. Working together with Ian Birchall and Associates, as well as Martin Building Company, the building's owner, HKS transformed the vacant 19th century electric company warehouse into a stunning collection of eco-friendly lofts that seem right at home in San Francisco's emerging South Beach neighborhood.
The Arc Light Co. building originally served as the historic California Electric Light Company, Station B. The building housed arc and incandescent lights used to generate electricity for electric light service, but fell out of service decades ago. Some developers might have simply leveled the building and started from scratch. But by choosing the path of renovation, HSK was able to take advantage of HUD-insured financing as well as added public funds from the Recovery Act, Prop 1C grant, and state money for site cleanup.
Instead of mice and trash, the six-story building is now home to 94 contemporary lofts — a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units (see all floor plans here). The renovation features two stories of restored brick façade topped by a four-story glass and metal structure that complements the historic context. Residents will be able to enjoy both north- and south-facing roof decks with a custom spa, grilling area and fitness center, elaborate interior courtyards, basement and enclosed garage parking, and a two-story restaurant within the historic brick walls.
In addition to being a stunning example of how adaptive re-use can restore a historic building, the Arc Light Co. is the first San Francisco building to receive LEED for Homes Mid-rise Gold certification. According to the US Green Building Council, LEED for Homes is a consensus-developed, third party-verified, voluntary rating system which promotes the design and construction of high-performance residences. In order to achieve this honor, HSK Architects incorporated numerous open spaces and courtyards, solar roof panels, energy-efficient appliances, locally produced glass, insulated windows, bicycle storage areas, and recharging stations into the redesign. The development also lies within walking distance to multiple Muni lines and Caltrain and provides easy access to both BART and the freeway.