SAN FRANCISCO – In 2010, the living conditions in Hunters View were so poor, the apartment blocks so uninhabitable, that the 267-unit complex housed only 148 families. It was considered the worst of San Francisco’s public housing projects and among the worst in the United States. It was also the first on a list of five housing projects slated for complete redevelopment under the ambitious HOPE SF program, a partnership of public and private interests dedicated to revitalizing the city’s low-income housing.

San Francisco-based firm Paulett Taggart Architects was responsible for the first two apartment blocks – fifty-three units total – in the Hunters View redevelopment scheme, which encompasses an entire neighbourhood’s worth of public housing. ‘With a mix of affordable and market-rate housing,’ say the architects, ‘the Hunters View redevelopment is being completed in three phases in order to allow the existing residents to remain in the neighbourhood.’

The buildings themselves are, necessarily, rather ordinary, but they don’t lack the charm of the stacked townhouses that climb steep hillsides throughout San Francisco. The architects have designed the apartments around generous, mid-block courtyards, where touches of colour liven the exterior spaces without making them ‘colourful’. That these buildings are more akin to the city’s historical housing than to the original Hunters View apartment blocks built in the 40s is promising.

Completion of these two blocks also marks important progress in the Hunters View master plan, drawn by Mithun|Solomon, which foresees a total of 750 subsidized and market-rate units. The plan also revises and expands the neighbourhood’s street grid to improve pedestrian and vehicular connectivity. As a whole, the redevelopment attempts to relink Hunters View both physically and socioeconomically with adjacent neighbourhoods and with the city.

Photos Bruce Damonte


Mark #53, out 1 December 2014, will feature a broader and more detailed investigation of low-income housing in the United States.