Prefab architecture and energy efficiency go hand-in-hand at The Union Flats, one of the largest completed modular housing developments in Northern California. Located in Union City directly across from a new public plaza and the local BART station, the transit-oriented community celebrates walkability and the outdoors with its amenities and proximity to green space. Completed in August 2018 by David Baker Architects, the solar-powered project has earned LEED Platinum certification and includes 40 flexible live-work lofts — a new housing type for Union City.

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a view of the entire Union Flats housing community, surrounded by green trees and mountains in the background

Spanning an area of nearly 290,000 square feet, The Union Flats is a high-density community with 243 modern, practical rental homes. The project was developed as part of a transit-oriented masterplan that includes the adjacent Station Center Family Housing, an award-winning affordable housing development completed by DBA in 2012. As with Station Center Family Housing, The Union Flats emphasizes an active and vibrant streetscape — a landscaped promenade is shared between the two developments — with features that include raised stoops connecting directly to the sidewalk, widened sidewalks and ground-level patios.

two dark buildings with walking structures connecting them. trees surround the building

A sense of community is fostered by the large central courtyard that features a large swimming pool along with freestanding green-roofed pavilions housing wellness, co-working, residential lounge, and dog-washing spaces, as well as a leasing office. At the rear of the site is an embedded garage with 244 parking spaces for 1:1 parking and 184 bicycle parking slots. The garage is strategically placed to buffer units from the sound of the adjacent rail tracks. The building design has also been informed by solar studies to mitigate unwanted solar gain.

Related: Prefab housing pods pop up with speed at Dyson Institute’s modular village

a wood paneled building with people sitting at tables inside

The Union Flats was constructed with a variety of prefabricated construction types: modular set on a foundation, modular atop a Type I podium and modular wrapping the Type 1 concrete garage. Guerdon Enterprises fabricated the 388 modular components in Boise, Idaho while foundations were being poured in Union City. A giant crane was used to assemble the components at a rate of about 12 a day.

+ David Baker Architects

Images by Bruce Damonte