By Carolyn Weber. A superior product design as well as site plan garnered this 62-unit condominium project two top awards. Situated on 30 acres of sensitive wetlands, the approval process took 25 years. Five architects toiled to produce the inventive plan, which packs eight clusters of three-story buildings on a wooded knoll layered up a hillside to capture the magnificent San Francisco views.

Each grouping has two buildings with townhouses over flats and is arranged around a courtyard with a garage. Two units in each cluster have a direct-access garage. The exteriors are a regional interpretation of the English Arts and Crafts style.

"We tried to incorporate a San Francisco Russian Hill look," says architect Chris Craiker, who adds that famed local architect Bernard Maybeck was also an inspiration.

Panels in a deep, rich, high-gloss palette of green, bluish purple, and burgundy complement the lush site. Shingles, multi-pane windows, and traditional columns and corbels create a bold statement.

Craiker used three kinds of stone in the project--flat flagstone, Wisconsin ledgestone, and, on the buildings themselves, cultured stone. The durable copper on the flashing, gutters, and downspouts will eventually age to a bronze-green patina. Concrete tile roofs top the 3.5:12 pitch roofs. "We kept the pitches low to maximize the views," Craiker notes.

Photo: Mark Darley

Despite the fabulous views, the site had shortcomings. "It's next to a freeway, so there were some extraordinary acoustical issues," says the architect. To keep the peace, he designed 3 1/2-inch concrete walls on a wood structure and glazing with specially tempered glass. "In multifamily, noise control is the new leaky ceiling." To appeal to sophisticated buyers who value elegance over a high bedroom count, the 2,104- to 2,730-square-foot units have all the bells and whistles. Buyers get exquisite detailing, top-of-the-line upgrades, and private gardens and terraces for the $1.5 to $2.5 million price tag.

Categories: Townhomes, Over 2,000 Square Feet; Attached Community; Entrant: LB Desilva, San Francisco; Builder: Bayfront Construction, Mill Valley, Calif.; Architects: Craiker Architects and Planners, San Rafael, Calif., Daniel Macdonald AIA Architects, Novato, Calif.; Development Consultant: Armax International, San Francisco; Construction Manager: Construction Management and Development, Honolulu; Design Consultant: Scheurer Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Land Planner: CSW Stuber Stroeh, Novato; Landscape Architect: Royston Hanamoto Alley and Abey, Mill Valley