8 Octavia is a gateway building, announcing the new San Francisco at the entry from the 101 Freeway. Each occupant operates louvers on the façade, constantly changing the image of the building. Units are clustered around vertical courts and modeled on lofts with optimal free space, achieved by services being compressed along common thick walls or in floating pods, creating freedom for the residents. URBAN CONTEXT - The site is where the elevated 101 Freeway connects to the surface streets at Market and becomes Octavia Boulevard – the entrance to north/west sector of San Francisco. The First Baptist Church with its classical façade and strong cornice is one pylon of this entrance. Mirroring this mass, on the other side of Octavia Boulevard, 8 Octavia completes the gateway. This entry is seen as an opportunity to present
our new city, one that folds tradition and innovation. The long thin mass of building floats above the street to make public commercial space at both ends. Traditional San Francisco street facades are pretty, with delicate vertical articulation, but now buildings also have other work to do. They need to protect and temper us with as little energy and resources as possible. Skins of building have to be alive, breathing and changing with the time of day and seasons, responding to the variation in climatic conditions to adjust the interiors. On this predominantly western façade, each occupant can modulate the sunlight and sound in their unit, controlling the temperature and re-drawing the exterior elevation as they do, displaying their occupancy to the city outside as a constantly changing billboard. BUILDING COMMUNITY - To create s
erenity on this busy boulevard, vertical rear yards are carved into the long mass, slices that weave through the building articulating the façade in proportion to surrounding buildings. The required ‘rear yard’ open space is divided into four parts to optimize the benefits of openness. These slices expand the girth of exterior wall, increasing the opportunities for interior light. Residences are entered via bridges through these common courts. Instead of a corridor, one arrives at home through a shared courtyard which creates opportunities for interaction and connection. THE URBAN HOUSE - San Francisco pioneered the new loft as an alternative to the apartment. Lofts provide occupants freedom to construct their own home by the arrangement of furniture in an open plan with minimum walls and constraints. We have based these dwellings on this type. Services are compressed along common thick walls, or in floating pods, highly rationalized, systematic, and rigorously stacked for economies. This achieves parallel goals of compression facilitating openness; and rationality achieving economy. The units are composed of a kit of parts. The one is a two-bedroom L-shaped courtyard house, arranged around the vertical voids. The other type is an I-shaped single bedroom unit with generous open space and an efficient pod containing all the services and mechanisms of domestic life floating in the space. At the top of the building L’s and I’s are combined into U’s to form 3 bedroom penthouse units which have private roof terraces accessed with spiral stairs. Our goal is to put design within reach with spaces which engender freedom for the occupants, agglomerate around communal courts, and make a memorable urban object that is proudly present and marks this important locus in the city. Stanley Saitowitz was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and received his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Witwatersrand in 1974 and his Masters in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley in 1977. He is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and has taught at numerous schools, including the Elliot Noyes Professor, Harvard University GSD , the Bruce Goff Professor, University of Norman, Oklahoma, UCLA, Rice, SCIARC, Cornell, Syracuse, and University of Texas at Austin. His first house was built in 1975, and together with Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects Inc., has completed numerous buildings and projects. These have been residential, commercial and institutional. He has designed houses, housing, master plans, offices, museums, libraries, wineries, synagogues, churches, commercial and residential interiors, memorials, urban landscapes and promenades. Amongst many awards, the Transvaal House was declared a National Monument by the Monuments Council in South Africa in 1997, the New England Holocaust Memorial received the Henry Bacon Medal in 1998, and in 2006 he was a finalist for the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award given by Laura Bush at the White House.