HERCULES IS A TOWN that never quite lived up to its namesake. The community north of Oakland had some history, but no real center. “There was never a ‘there' to Hercules,” says architect Jill Williams. That is, until a series of community planning meetings re-envisioned the town as a high-density transit village.

Enter Bayside. Built on 32.6 acres of vacant industrial land, the community's 334 tight-knit homes eschew deep setbacks for a more urban form of existence. Some porches end a scant 3 feet from the sidewalk, inviting passersby to savor the architecture. The Victorian is identified by its gingerbread, scalloped shingles on the gable, and angled bay window. A three-level Italianate features a shallow-pitched roof, decorative cornice line, wood windows, and corner porches with color-accented turned posts. A third model exudes a colonial feel with a front-to-back gable roof and box bay punch-out.

Sidling up to a New Urbanist “Main Street,” lined with retail and live/work buildings, the development is flanked on two sides by wetlands and on a third by a creek. These natural borders were constricting to the site plan, but ultimately proved to be an aesthetic perk. “We kept [them] as a public edge for views from the neighborhood, as well as from town back toward the neighborhood,” says Williams.

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Photo: Eric Figge

Category: Community with mixed-use housing types; Entrant/Architect/Land planner: KTGY Group, Irvine, Calif.; Builders/Developers: John Laing Homes, Roseville, Calif.; William Lyon Homes, San Ramon, Calif.; Landscape architects: Ripley Design Group, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Steve Crouch Landscape, Roseville; Interior designers: Design Tech, Newport Beach, Calif.; Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.