Local architecture practice Edmonds + Lee has now offered its own take on the genre in an unusual twist with The Austin project; translating their vision of Californian organic modernism into a multi-family residential scheme in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Talk of Californian modernism often conjures up images of low-slung flat roofs, a healthy balance of concrete and timber and large windows looking out to the ocean – or the iconic cityscapes of Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Edmonds + Lee Architects is a full-service design, development, and architecture firm based in San Francisco’s Mission District. Partners Robert Edmonds and Vivian Lee—who met at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning—integrate a profoundly philosophical approach with a deep well of on-the-ground building experience to produce work that explores light, space, plane, material, and the endless possibilities of form.
The Austin is a 100-unit residential building, comprising three stepped, glazed volumes encased with white frames. It was designed by local firm BDE Architecture in an upcoming “trendy industrial” area, located at the edge of the city’s Lower Pacific Heights and Nob Hill neighborhoods.
The project sits in the fashionable Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.
Photography: Matthew Millman
Wood, brown leather and earth-toned metals feature throughout the main communal lobby, where residents are encouraged to relax. The styling draws on “the architectural idea of California organic modernism” – an aesthetic popular in the mid-20th century, which involved finishes that blended with the natural environment.
Details were very important to the overall feel and nothing was left to chance; even the mail room was specially designed with cove lighting that frames matt black mailboxes and keyholes that are transformed into a graphic element all their own.
The architects wanted to balance an exterior that draws on the area’s industrial heritage with modernist interiors. Photography: Matthew Millman