One of the gems of this year’s Architecture + The City Homes Tours in San Francisco this past week was a retrofitted loft apartment in the historic Oriental Warehouse Loft Building in a rapidly developing neighborhood known as South Beach. We took a tour and were amazed at how much light was able to infiltrate the deep and narrow concrete shell of the loft, as well as other architectural features like the beautifully maintained original brick and open floorplan of the space.
The original building dates back to the 1860s and is one of the first and most used port buildings in San Francisco, housing imports such as tea, coffee, rice and silk for nearly a century. The wear and tear of the original brick walls has been mitigated by a light structure of seismic reinforcing that laces the interior and supports the new substructure of 66 lofts within the original shell.
Fisher Friedman Associates retrofitted the original building in 1996 to function as live-work lofts, ranging in size from 1,350 to 1,800 square feet. The current owner took his own loft in a new direction, hiring Edmonds + Lee Architects to open up the pre-existing opaque guardrails at the upper level and replace them with frameless glass walls, providing a direct visual connection to the living room below. In keeping with this trend, a large translucent glass wall divides the shower from the master bedroom, allowing even more light to filter in.
We loved the Junckers heather grey engineered wood flooring and etched charcoal porcelain tiles in the master bath, which provided a deep solid horizontal contrast to the transparent vertical walls. The open, shared relationship between all of the living spaces brought a visually inviting attitude to the small dwelling space, even with 100s of people trickling in and out that day.