By Carolyn Weber. "This is what a loft should be--it's messy and real, not so homogenized," exclaimed one judge of the 75-year-old, former fruit-drying facility turned luxury loft complex. Bringing life to an old warehouse district, the Emeryville Lofts are rugged and fresh and completely compatible with the surroundings. Augmented with a new silver metal-clad roof addition to accommodate penthouses, the building houses 142 lofts that range from 500 to 1,800 square feet and sell for $250,000 to $600,000.

A new five-story concrete parking garage was added, as well as a three-story wood frame, stucco-clad wing, which features colorful red commercial flex units on the ground level with a recessed arcade. They have double height ceilings and roll-up glass doors that provide an active street presence. Above are 11 1/2-foot-wide, 700-square-foot lofts. "Those are very popular," says architect David Baker.

An old one-story building was razed to make way for a lush landscaped interior courtyard that provides refuge from the intense urban environment. "These are big buildings, and it becomes a village," Baker explains. "It's important to have transitional space. It's also good for feng shui because you get energized from plants."

Photo: David Wakely

The interiors are rough and contemporary, and Baker left most of the original elements such as massive mushroom cap columns. "The industrial stuff gives it much more character than just sheetrock," says Baker. "And it's more economical than if you had to finish everything." Category: Lofts; Entrant/Architect: David Baker Faia amp; Partners Architects, San Francisco; Builder: Devcon Construction/Nibbi Brothers, Milipitas, Calif.; Developer: Holliday Development, Emeryville; Landscape Architect: Miller Co. Landscape, San Francisco