Emeryville is an eclectic area with a preponderance of neighborhoods in the process of morphing from industrial to residential mixed uses. This stalwart apartment building celebrates the grittiness of what was there before, but then adds a touch of refinement. It’s the tension between the two aesthetics that makes it interesting.

Kwan Henmi Architects started by salvaging an old brick parapet wall from the metal plating factory that previously sat on site, recasting it as the entry for the 54-unit residential building. That façade then became the springboard for rhythmic massing all around that alternates solid masonry with dramatic steel-framed windows. Eleven live/work units and a cafe line the street at ground level, hiding 83 parking spaces inside the building.

The intermingling of solid muscle and translucency carries through inside, where corridors mix concrete columns with light and air. Polycarbonate ceiling panels are back-lit, allowing plumbing and mechanical systems to show through in an abstract, arty way.

Category: Apartments, rental
Entrant/Architect: Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning, San Francisco
Builder: Barry Swenson Builders, San Jose, Calif.
Developer: Prometheus REG, San Mateo, Calif.
Landscape architect: Robert LaRocca and Associates, San Francisco
Interior designer: Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa, Calif.

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