Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
307 SHOTWELL STREET in San Francisco, California by Todd Davis Architecture
November 15th, 2014 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Todd Davis Architecture
1. The property was not in great shape when the client purchased it: foreclosed in 2011, it endured much vandalism and a habitual squatter. The front of the property was very industrial in appearance, with a tall wooden fence built around the board-formed concrete garage. The combined structure was topped with a large metal electrical pylon (see attached photo). All street-facing surfaces had been painted a putty grey color.
2. Based on Sanborn maps and local recollections, the property was originally operated as a dry cleaner at the turn of the last century, and then as a munitions depot during World War II. Sometime later it was re-zoned to a residence. The word “CLEANERS” can still be see faintly in the concrete of the frontmost building, in large letters above the garage opening. An unconfirmed rumor is that local band Faith No More owned the property in the late 1980s, and used the structures as practice studios.
3. The property sits on the former banks of Mission Creek. The eastern end of the lot
would have just touched water. (Folsom Street, behind 307 Shotwell to the east, is
several feet lower in elevation and tends to flood.) This side of the street survived many big quakes over the years. The opposite side street did not, and has newer construction.
4. At the time of purchase, there were three separate structures on the lot: a garage at the front, a middle studio, and a rear residence. It felt almost like a miniature village, with the three structures connected by concrete walkways. As a residence, it appears that no prior renovations were to code – water, electricity, and network was run overhead in one-inch pipes between the three structures.
BEFORE: 2012 AFTER: 2014
WALKING THROUGH YARD
5. The client had experience traveling and living in Southeast Asia, and saw the potential to create a secluded residence with an interior courtyard. To achieve this, the middle concrete structure was cut in half, leaving a patio “shell” overlooking a square lawn.
6. The tree root “chandelier” involved last-minute inspiration after removing one of two maple trees on the property. The stump had been lying on the ground for weeks and was going to be thrown out, but the builder commented that it looked like a chandelier.
The interior ceilings were too low for installation, but the client thought it would work
inside the patio shell. The chandelier is complemented by ducting holes in the concrete roof, previously filled in but cleared out during the project to allow interesting light patterns throughout the day.
7. At the eastern end of the property is the residence, the third and oldest structure. An initial design scheme involved tearing it down and building atop the garage, to conform with the block’s convention of residence in the front, yard in the back. The builder noted several advantages of retaining a grandfathered non-conforming rear structure, and so the concept shifted to an interior remodel with extensive landscape changes.
8. Cedar was chosen as the common material linking the exterior surfaces, wrapping the new façade surrounding the cleaned and sealed concrete garage walls. Cedar
continues down the walkway to surround the yard and cover the new canopy
overhanging the main residence. Inset within the original corrugated metal siding, a
cedar section highlights the main entrance and the master bedroom’s French doors.
Finally, in the living room, the fireplace column is also wrapped in cedar.
9. Inside the main residence, the renovation kept the same layout and focused on
removing extra elements. A large opening was cut into the terra cotta bedroom wall, for views and egress through the new French doors. Multi-level interior floors were levelled and resurfaced to be more friendly to pets, children, the elderly, and robotic vacuum cleaners. The original floor in the bedroom was cleaned and sealed, to remain as a reference to the industrial history of the property.
10. The client is a fan of local businesses in general, and specifically of the Heath
ceramics company. The kitchen is a small tribute to the style and success of Heath; it features test-run tile from their new Mission tile factory, and the cabinetry was built by the same carpenter who built Heat’s showroom casework. The Murphy guest bed in the office alcove was recovered from a SoMa project designed by local architect and Shotwell Street neighbor David Baker.
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