In the second half of the 20th century, San Francisco began to emerge as an important cultural and economic center of the country. It was a time when the region gained its own prominence in creativity and design and started to influence not only the Western United States but also the nation as a whole. Today, the city by the bay is again creating a certain cultural gravitas as it exports its influential design more broadly across the globe, and its architecture will play an important role in that transition.[contextly_sidebar id=”2f5a18c1c3a731ed6781ff79ebd56424″]“We’re inspired by some of the great architecture in other cities both nationally and internationally and, I think, saw a great opportunity to bring some of that to San Francisco,” says Principal of DM Development Mark MacDonald.
DM Development, co-founded by MacDonald and Danielle Dignan, is quickly making a name for itself as the premier design-first firm in San Francisco. DM has partnered with DDG, another design-first real estate investment and development company based in New York and San Francisco, to bring about a trio of Hayes Valley projects that are utterly unlike the Victorian homes and Bay windows aesthetic for which the city is famous.
“Too often we see designs sacrificed for efficiencies, and we don’t do that,” says Joseph A. McMillan, Jr., Chairman and CEO of DDG. DDG is vertically-integrated, so it controls the entirety of a building from the design phase through construction. As such, DDG doesn’t compromise designs for cost. “We go to great pains to make sure that in all our projects, the design intent up front is what you see in the finished project.”
“[At DDG and in New York], there was a lot of focus and detail on the custom finishes and really also focusing on not only what was designed but who designed it,” says MacDonald. “I think that taking some of those values and philosophies and applying it to San Francisco’s more traditional aesthetic creates something that is really quite interesting.”
This merged aesthetic is clearest at 400 Grove, a 34-unit luxury residential development at the corner of Gough and Grove streets in San Francisco, which is scheduled to break ground today. “We worked closely with DM and DDG to try and come up with a solution to the design that was a more exciting and interesting design than is the usual for residential projects in San Francisco,” says Anne Fougeron, Principal at 400 Grove’s designer Fougeron Architecture.
“We really wanted to not do the standard bay window articulation—you know, every 25 feet a bay window.” Instead, 400 Grove features a wavy, articulated exterior with numerous planes of glass angled around the outside. The design is airy and light, incorporating a post-modern aesthetic while remaining conversant with the neighborhood.
“What we’ve done is created bays, but not traditional rectilinear bays that pop out in regimented columns. We’ve created these angles that create Bays,” says MacDonald. “There’s a nod to the old and, at the same time, looking forward to the new.”
“[400 Grove] also has a huge opening on Gough Street that’s three stories tall and allows you to see inside the courtyard of the project, which is also fairly rare on housing projects,” says Fougeron. “It’s much more inviting than a normal housing project where all you see is a front lobby and then everybody’s behind closed walls behind it.”
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Photography DDG/DM Development