Social connections are important at any stage of life, but especially as people age. So it’s gratifying to see architecture that creatively addresses multigenerational living. At Armstrong Place, affordable family townhomes and seniors rental apartments face each other across a landscaped mews, inviting interaction while maintaining two identities.

Anchoring the project is a 116-unit seniors building, its bright colors borrowed from African batik fabrics and applied, quilt-like, to the elevation’s public face. Metal-clad bays animate the stair tower; near the top, a bench-lined bay offers a place to rest and socialize. “We talked the building department into letting us put the doors on a hold-open to encourage seniors to use the stairs as they go by,” says architect Kevin Wilcock.

The complex’s family side fosters human connections, too. Two U-shaped four-story townhouses frame a recreational courtyard. Upside-down townhouses—living above, sleeping below—stack atop conventional ones to acoustically separate the living quarters.

Merit Award

Category Affordable/Workforce housing
Entrant/Architect David Baker + Partners Architects, San Francisco
Associate architects Full Circle Architecture, San Francisco (senior bldg.); TSH International Architecture + Design, Burlingame, Calif. (family bldg.)
Builders Nibbi Brothers General Contractors, San Francisco (senior bldg.); James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corp., Danville, Calif. (family bldg.)
Developer BRIDGE Housing, San Francisco
Landscape architect Adrienne Wong Associates, Oakland, Calif.

While targeting first-time buyers, the 124 townhomes include three-bedroom units that accommodate growing families, and aging-in-place amenities such as stairs wide enough for a wheelchair lift.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.