HOW DO YOU DESIGN A RESIDENTIAL project—in this case, 64 loft units in three buildings—that straddles large-scale industrial warehouses on one side and smaller-scale residential buildings on the other? If you're San Francisco architect Dan Hale, you keep the hallmarks of those divergent looks—warehouse and residential—firmly in mind and go with the best of both worlds. And then punch up the color.

“We were trying to bridge that gap, so to speak, with the form and the massing and the scale of the buildings,” says Hale. “Warehouses traditionally have much more void than solid—a lot of glass with a little bit of wall—so we tried to play off that simplicity that you see on warehouses. On the residential side, San Francisco has a long background in using strong colors on homes as well as a tradition of smaller, individual units, typically expressed in narrow, 25-foot widths.”

At the Alabama Street Lofts, each unit is represented by the void created by private decks. Dotted here and there are symmetrical groups of smaller, square windows, which echo the grid pattern in each deck's large window wall and lend the buildings a more individual and personal sense of scale. Just for fun, Hale capped the north end of one building with a playful barrel vault; it helps soften the transition between the four-story building and the smaller, more articulated buildings across the street.

Hale calls the Alabama Street Lofts “contemporary, but not trendy. I think they have a timelessness that will look good for many years to come.”

Category: Lofts; Entrant/Architect: Hunt Hale Jones Architects, San Francisco; Builder/Developer: Imbelloni Construction, San Francisco

LOCAL COLOR Architect Dan Hale knew he wanted to use color in an inventive way with the Alabama Street Lofts, so he called in San Francisco color consultant Bob Buckter, aka “Dr. Color”, to help with the task. “Bob came up with the idea to go back to San Francisco's Victorian houses and use some of those bright colors,” says Hale. “He pointed out that this transitional neighborhood would probably attract young professionals and said, ‘Let's have some fun with it.' ”

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