THE GOALS FOR THIS PROJECT WERE daunting: Design and build 53 affordable rental units, with underground parking, on less than an acre in a downtown Palo Alto, Calif., neighborhood. And what a neighborhood it is. Dubbed “Professorville,” it's marked by quiet streets, mature trees, and classic single-family Craftsman homes with a median price of $1.5 million. Just the kind of community that could throw up any number of roadblocks.

Pyatok Architects started off right by facilitating community meetings to help generate the form, organization, and program of the project. The result: a complex of townhomes over flats that has been well received by local homeowners despite the sizable disparity in wealth between the old and new residents.

Each unit is wired for high-speed Internet access and has a patio or balcony. Several have private porches, an obvious nod to the existing Craftsman streetscape. A historic boardinghouse was moved to a corner and will be used as the manager's office and a community center. And more than two dozen mature trees—including a huge valley oak that now shelters a play structure—were painstakingly saved and incorporated into the plan.

Some sensitive hands were at work on the design and execution of Oak Court Apartments, which one judge called “a collection of Craftsman ‘homes' lovingly addressing the street.”

Sounds like just the right kind of neighbors.

Awards: Residential project of the year/attached and grand award for best affordable housing—urban (tie); Builder: Segue Construction, Richmond, Calif.; Developer: Palo Alto Housing Corp., Palo Alto, Calif.; Architect: Pyatok Architects, Oakland, Calif.