The design of Solaire, a 420,000-square-foot, 32-story apartment tower, embodies an approach to urbanism that embraces both social inclusion and sustainability. Solaire successfully creates a diverse neighborhood that promotes interaction amongst its residents and the city at large. Located in San Francisco’s South of Market – SoMa District, the tower is part of the two-block Transbay Block 6 & 7 residential development composed of both market rate and affordable housing.
Solaire creates a vertical community by providing access to eight large, public balconies on every third floor in lieu of private balconies. These “sky parks” offer open views of the skyline and the city below. The balconies provide space for residents to meet informally, similar to chance meetings on a front porch or in a pocket park.
Solaire establishes a new benchmark for sustainable building strategies by leveraging San Francisco’s mild winters and dry summers. The city’s low-humidity climate allows for a completely naturally ventilated building to meet its cooling needs without the use of conventional mechanical systems. Each living unit contains operable windows and an occupant-controlled, fan-forced outside air ventilation system.
Due to the Solaire’s proximity to the Bay Bridge approach, the City of San Francisco required a fine particulate air filtration system for occupant health. SCB combined this filtration system with direct outside air intake to take advantage of the city’s naturally cool climate. Computerized thermal comfort modeling verified the effectiveness of this approach and enabled the design team to confidently avoid the need for mechanical cooling systems. In order for the system to be effective as a cooling system, the design kept solar and internal heat gains to a minimum by utilizing a high-performance enclosure system that combines high-performance glass with integrated shading devices and an efficient interior and lighting package. The project is designed to be LEED Gold.