The San Francisco home is rethinking the modernist box

Michael Hennessey Architecture transforms the neglected location of a house in San Francisco into a modernist-inspired vertical design with clean surfaces and a gently industrial feel

A minimalist stack of boxes emerged from an ordinary but neglected single-family home in San Francisco. The project was designed by Michael Hennessey Architects and involved converting the existing 70 year old structure into a contemporary composition of three residential units in a single, contiguous, modern shell. Designed for a design enthusiast with a penchant for Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, the project blends modernist architecture with a site-specific approach, all infused with contemporary sensibility.

The hotel is located in the Twin Peaks district and offers impressive views of the cityscape of San Francisco. Working with the vertical axis, the architects made the most of the views, went up and installed large strip windows and glazed areas on the facade. A combination of steel construction with aluminum framed windows results in an overall composition that feels both smooth and gently industrial.

Inside, the three units of the structure extend over different sizes – there is a one, two and three bedroom apartment, one of which is occupied by the customer. Each unit has its own character, but all have double-height rooms and a combination of rough and warm materials like bare concrete and dark-colored woods. A sculptural staircase made of dark metal connects different levels, while fabric curtains add softness to the clean, minimalist spaces inside.

Thank you for subscribing to the newsletter

The project combines an inspired owner, modern architecture and a “European artisan about to retire,” says Hennessey, who ensures that the professional craftsmanship that the project has produced is recognized. “This would be the last project by Uwe Dobers after a long career as a builder of modern houses in San Francisco. The humble craftsman, who fled the GDR in the 1980s, has been an integral part of the local architecture community since that time and has built numerous homes for a number of famous architects across the city. ‘§ §