First of its kind apartment complex in San Francisco

Environment News


A unique community model for housing has been erected along the San Francisco skyline. Set in the Mission Bay neighborhood, the Edwin M. Lee Apartments are the first of its kind in the city. Grateful residents can enjoy the view and access to amenities.

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A large blue apartment building

The apartment building combines supportive housing for both veterans and low-income families. It pulls homeless people off the streets with the offer of new apartment living.

Related: A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

A blue apartment complex with a courtyard in front of it

Furthermore, the project was a collaboration between Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown Community Development Center. It had an emphasis on equitable shelter with easy access to community resources. The 124,000-square-foot development provides 62 apartments for formerly homeless veterans and 57 apartments for low-income families. Additionally, there are ground-floor services for families, veterans, neighbors and the greater community. Not only does the building provide for over 100 families, but it also considers the needs of the environment in the passive design.

An overhang hallway that opens up into a courtyard

With wellness and access in mind, the design incorporates wide ramps for wheelchairs or strollers. There’s a community garden, kitchen and indoor and outdoor gathering spaces. In addition, there are gender-neutral restrooms, EV charging stations and bike parking. Pedestrian walkability is rated high and nature-inspired art by local artists is on display.

Moreover, the building was designed with energy efficiency in mind. It earned a GreenPoints-Rated Platinum Certification. Solar panels are estimated to produce 91% of the building’s common area electrical energy and solar thermal panels are estimated to produce 60% of the building’s hot water heating energy.

A courtyard with a zig zag pathway

Material selections marry into the green design. There is the use of bamboo plywood, recycled curbs and cobblestones found on site used in landscaping. There is also sealed concrete flooring on the ground floor to minimize materials during construction and into the future.

The building was oriented to take advantage of passive design elements. It features a tight envelope and highly energy-efficient windows. Energy-saving lighting and appliances were installed throughout the building.

An interior dining hall with wooden ceiling

The building was dedicated to the late mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, in a tribute to his goal to end homelessness for veterans. The project received a 2021 AIA National Housing Award and the AIA California Residential Design Merit Award.

+ Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Saida + Sullivan Design Partners

Photography by Bruce Damonte



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