The American Institute of Architects awarded San Francisco-based architecture and design firm Mithun the AIA Housing Award for the 1180 Fourth Street affordable housing complex. The award was one of two given to California architects.

  • 1180 Fourth Street has 150 units
  • Mission Bay is undergoing a facelift with new biotech and education developments
  • The American Institute of Architects award 1180 Fourth Street the AIA Housing Award

The American Institute of Architects awarded San Francisco-based architecture and design firm Mithun the AIA Housing Award for the 1180 Fourth Street affordable housing complex.

The award was one of two given to California architects.

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles received the other multifamily housing award for its Cloverdale749 property.

“There are few other cities that would designate a site like this for affordable housing,” said Anne Torney, 51, partner at Mithun Solomon in San Francisco. “It’s an indication of the city and Redevelopment Agency’s commitment to high-quality affordable housing.”

Torney described the location as a gateway to Mission Bay, where she says plans are already laid for more development. There are market-grade apartments, hotels and even a new campus for UCSF Mission Bay.

“One would hope that this project sets a lofty standard for the area and raises the bar everywhere for the design of good urban housing regardless of the income target,” said David Lee, a jury member of the AIA Housing Award and president at Stull and Lee Incorporated. “This project was a lot better than many “market” rate projects we looked at.”

“It’s not only the high level of design that sets a design standard, but also in terms of sustainability for the way the building is responsive urbanistically,” she said.

“It’s an indication, a public indication, of the city’ commitment. Saying we’re going to put homeless folks in this beautiful place in this beautiful building with people living in healthy beautiful housing.”

Mithun’s award-winning development, however, is somewhat bitter sweet despite the positive impact affordable housing has on bubbling San Francisco. In 2014, San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency was abolished under state law, essentially cutting a leg off of state funding for affordable housing projects, as well as infrastructure and other projects.

The mixed-used building featuring 150 low-income rental units and 10,000 square feet of retail space is one of the last affordable housing developments funded by the now defunct agency.

“I think that Redevelopment no longer exists as a way of funding affordable housing in California is a real tragedy because there is a real need,” Torney said.

The 1180 Fourth Street operates under Mercy Housing California, part of a national nonprofit that works every aspect of affordable housing from development to management. In order to qualify for housing in the available 99 units allocated for low-income, residents for must earn approximately sixty percent of area median income, or right around $60,000. The other fifty units in the building are designated for formerly homeless.

Something else Torney revealed was that San Francisco researched the cost of homelessness in the city and was able to determine that it is cost efficient to tax payers for developments such as these. At the new complex, residents are able to meet face-to-face with career and job placement services, mental health specialists, and other resources.

“And likewise for the folks living here it means they don’t have to go all over the city to different appointments…They can stabilize their lives,” she said.

The longterm effects are what Torney has her eye on, though. She see’s the impact that housing has on families, even down to simply being proud of the place you reside. With access to city services and the opportunity to receive education and support, Torney believes, err, hopes, many families will qualify out of the apartments.

Mithun’s new “gateway” in Mission Bay offers 150 total units in the 1.4 acre property. The amenities include daycare programs, multi-level tenant-accessible courtyards, fitness and lifestyle services.

Mithun’s development is certified GreenPoint rated.

Email Britt Chester

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