Mithun|Solomon and Kennerly Architecture have introduced architectural expression to a neighbourhood often criticised for bland, monolithic architecture
1180 Fourth Street in San Francisco, by Mithun|Solomon and Kennerly Architecture, is a recently completed mixed-use housing development for low-income and formerly homeless families. It had to hold down a prominent corner at the gateway to Mission Bay South, a full city block located at the acute angle formed by two streets, fronting a park along Mission Creek.
To break up the six-storey building’s bulk, the design team of Mithun|Solomon and Kennerly Architecture, took advantage of the wide range of common spaces—courts, lobbies, community rooms, etc.—to express these uses on the exterior, articulating the massing and fenestration. Four-foot-long perforated, vertical metal sunshades punctuate the building’s sharply angled prow at the street corner. Internal courts make the block porous from the street. The elevations facing the street are articulated with distinctly different architectural expressions, adding variety to a neighbourhood often criticised for bland, monolithic architecture.
The design for 1180 Fourth Street breaks from the formulaic pattern of most Mission Bay development in two critical ways:
- The perimeter block is made permeable with a large entry courtyard set at grade, visible through a double-height portico and a glass community room.
Not only does this provide an articulated profile and civic face to Channel Park and the Fourth Street Bridge, it enables views and light to the interior of the block, and creates a secure, landscaped entry sequence for residents.
- Rather than subsume the mixed street level uses within a homogenous architectural language, they have been used to instigate diverse architectural responses above. The resultant design amplifies the distinct character of the four surrounding streets that the ground floor uses help initiate.
Inside, gracious day-lit common spaces and hallways access a diverse mix of one, two, and three bedroom dwellings. Common areas include a teen room, computer lab, fitness room, flex rooms, and the community room with kitchen. The courtyards include a turf field for play and outdoor movies, BBQ, community garden plots, and secure play areas for family childcare units.