Designed around a concept of frames, The Austin’s large white rectangles add to the City’s skyline from a distance. But from a closer view, it becomes apparent that each window itself frames a unique perspective of the city from each residence. The white-clad and glass façade reflect light and make the building pop from the streetscape The three facades that gradually slope up Pine Street give the property a sense of purpose and help anchor this neighborhood that continues to evolve and recreate itself.
To live at The Austin is to reside in a new school of thought, one that is open and social, receptive to the conviviality of the neighborhood and the City while offering a cozy cocoon on the inside. It is to be part of something grander than itself—a true expression of the San Francisco spirit.
California Organic Modernism
Warm and malleable interiors have come to define Edmonds + Lee’s interior aesthetic. Add in the laid-back vibe of California, and you get a soothing atmosphere that practically whispers “welcome home” every time you slip the key in the door. “The exterior architecture has to be bold, because for the most part it’s being seen from vehicles, at great speed. But inside, of course the atmosphere is more intimate and the pace is slower. So we always think about the five senses when we’re designing,” says principal Vivian Lee. Her team also thought a lot about the joy of living in an urban space and how to capitalize on that modern, contemporary lifestyle. To do so, she says, “authenticity” was the prevalent language. Here, Lee explains the inspiration behind each material she chose for the condominiums at The Austin.
The Austin Entrance
“This building has two fronts, and that is where the name comes from. San Francisco could always use more green spaces, and we are working with the city to celebrate the uniqueness of the Alley and make it more of a pedestrian-friendly place. The outdoor common space will help do that. We want the Austin Alley entry to feel as important as the Pine Street entrance.”
Oak Planks in the Lobby
“We strategically used wide-oak wood with a brush finish in certain areas, almost like an area rug, to provide that sense of warmth. I love the wood—it has a tactile feel to it, with imperfections retained to let the artisan factor come through. That material extends all the way up the walls, creating a cocoon-like realm. And since the same wood is used for the flooring in the residences, we’re giving the owners a sense of home the second they walk in the lobby.”
“The metal plates that surround the double-sided fireplace are inspired by the history of the site as an auto body repair shop. The bonded metal reminds me of a tapestry or woven basket reeds. This material is used to provide a contrast to the warmth of the other materials, to hint the history of the neighborhood. It’s not that we’ll be so literal in our reference to the industrial past—it’s more that we’re offering that association through the distinct presence of this tactile element.”
“There are more bike owners than car owners in San Francisco, so rather than bury the bike storage in the basement, we put it right in the lobby. It makes using your bike so much easier on a daily basis, to walk it right out of The Austin lobby and off you go. People choose to live in this city because it has this unique urban-rural connection. You live in an ultra-urban place, yet in less than 20 minutes you can bike to the woodlands for a hiking trip. So we celebrate that. In some ways, this is a city that offers the best of both worlds, and the bike room appeals to that unique culture.”