At a busy San Francisco intersection on a triangular shaped lot that once housed a car dealership stands 38 Dolores, an 81-unit rental building that rises eight stories and drops to four stories, depending on the street. The building was financed and planned as a luxury rental with high-end finishes, but “mapped” as a condo, so units could be sold as condos in the future, says Dan Safier, Prado president and CEO. The building was touted by judges for a design especially appropriate for its location. BAR Architects gave the structure three different looking facades to match the rhythm of the building’s three different sides. The fast-paced Market Street side has a crisp bay windows and ceramic panels. The side facing Dolores, a boulevard with majestic palms, was stepped back at the top two floors to decrease scale; bay windows are also shorter. The more residential 14th street façade has a vertical focus to match the vintage row houses across the street. The building does more than look contextual. It helped a gritty area become more people-friendly and capitalize on its location as a transit hub. Working with BAR and Webcor Builders, Prado widened sidewalks, introduced bicycle storage, leased ground-floor space to Whole Foods—a people magnet as well as a way to allow residents and neighbors to shop on foot. Units range from one to three bedrooms, with sliding barn doors in bigger units that make bedrooms more flexible. Outdoor space, another priority, was achieved with a landscaped podium complete with green wall, fire pit, herb garden, and fruit trees; a rooftop habitat attracts endangered butterfly species. The building was certified LEED Gold.

Getting It Done

To make the building green, Prado enlisted William McDonough + Partners, considered the “godfather of green architecture,” says Safier. Corridors were single loaded so windows could be placed on both sides and rooms passively vented; exterior walkways provide natural light and fresh air. “We avoided a tunnel of units,” says architect David Israel, AIA, and BAR principal.

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