The phrase “I pity the fool” became commonplace as Mr. T burst on the scene with the premiere of hit TV show “The A-Team” in 1983. It was also the year when we learned that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as Cyndi Lauper’s infectious anthem climbed the charts while Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space aboard Space Shuttle Challenger.
In 1983, AND began work on a series of improvements to single-room occupancy (SRO) residences that continues to this day, most notably the Swiss American Hotel in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Tenants of the hotel, living in squalid, unsafe conditions, banded together to call a rent strike, forcing landlords to make needed repairs.
The building was later sold to the Chinatown Neighborhood Improvement Resource Center, today known as Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC). CCDC relocated residents to other locations while a full 'gut' rehab was undertaken of the SRO units.
AND and CCDC used the opportunity to replace interior finishes and make significant architectural improvements, raising quality of life for the hotel’s residents, many of whom were elderly. The reconstruction added community rooms as well as major upgrades to individual units.
Community kitchens were consciously designed by AND to include space for woks, storage for fresh produce and other amenities needed to accommodate the cultural needs of the largely Chinese tenants. On the ground level, CCDC leased storefronts to community-minded businesses, including the Beat Museum.
In recognizing the project with a Certificate of National Merit for Urban Development Excellence, HUD said of AND, “Your innovative project has greatly enhanced the quality of your community’s life. Your strong leadership, vision and public-private partnerships have demonstrated how to use creatively the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.”
The Swiss American is a model of well-designed and sensitively managed housing in a shared living environment. AND and CCDC continue to work together to create affordable housing for San Francisco’s most vulnerable; revitalize and build healthy, safe and equitable communities for all.
In 1984 the phrase “Who ya gonna call?” became all the rage as “Ghostbusters” hit the big screen. On the small screen, Tom Selleck impressed fans as Ferrari-driving Hawaii detective extraordinaire “Magnum, P.I.” while sporting an even more impressive mustache. Michael Jackson thrilled as his “Thriller” album went on to sell over 37 million copies. In Cupertino, a company called Apple released Macintosh, one of the first user-friendly computers ever made, with a “1984”-inspired Super Bowl commercial that metaphorically shattered the wall between technology and people.
That same year AND started the initial concept of what would eventually become Specialty Mills Products in our shop in North Beach. The cabinet shop was created as an outgrowth of AND’s Employment Training Center (ETC) program for high-risk youth started in 1978. In creating a social enterprise that was a real-world job environment for low-income residents, ETC had begun to experience a growing demand for its quality casework products as well as generate income for AND’s program.
As then-executive director Maurice Lim Miller noted, “We strongly believe that jobs in manufacturing can be brought back to our urban neighborhoods. These are the kind of jobs that at-risk populations can rebuild their lives around.”
The millwork shop soon focused on two revenue streams: high-end custom cabinetry--for spaces such as the lobby of the Rincon Center; reception desks and conference tables for upscale offices; merchandise displays for a Ghirardelli Chocolate store on Union St.--and durable, affordable, well-designed furniture for buildings housing single-room occupancy (SRO) residents. The success of the shop soon required a larger space and it moved to Bayview/Hunters Point in 1985, then to a specially constructed facility in Potrero Hill in 1991. A second site in West Oakland followed in the late 1990s.
1997 was filled with unforgettable events, not the least of which were Steve Jobs’ triumphant return to Apple, Tiger Woods becoming the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters and James Cameron’s “Titanic” nabbing the biggest box office grosses in movie history.
For AND, the year’s highlight was our publication of Good Neighbors: Affordable Housing (Design for Living), the first book of its kind to focus on design quality in affordable housing. Both this project and a companion slideshow resulted from AND winning a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and American Institute of Architects (AIA) grants.
Written by AND’s R. Thomas Jones, William Pettus and Michael Pyatok, Good Neighbors takes a look at the ways communities around the country solved affordable housing problems with creativity and resourcefulness. Providing a history of affordable housing in the US, Good Neighbors also relates the inspiring stories of the people and partnerships behind built projects despite scarce resources and many obstacles. Good Neighbors became the basis for the federal Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) database and website on affordable housing at www.designadvisor.org.
Good Neighbors is a testament to the ability, vision and perseverance of affordable housing advocates fighting for housing equity, reflecting AND’s mission to build and revitalize healthy communities
Among the triumphant events heralded in the year 2008 were the historic election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the US; the summer Olympics in China and the release of WALL-E, Pixar’s animated film about a lovable trash compactor. Meanwhile, as the sub-prime mortgage crisis spread, Americans witnessed trillion-dollar bailouts of too-big-to-fail institutions.
At AND, we commenced design and renovation of a major health facility serving San Francisco’s homeless under the City’s Dept. of Public Health Office of Housing & Urban Health.
Opening its doors in mid-2009, the Medical Respite & Sobering Center has provided care for hundreds of people, primarily homeless patients released from San Francisco General Hospital. Often upon leaving the hospital, such patients are urgently in need of shelter in order to fully recuperate.
AND provided design through construction administration services for this $4.4 million project. At the respite center, clients can access a range of crucial health services from 24-hour medical care, clean beds, hot meals, hot showers, medication monitoring and transportation to follow-up appointments. They are allowed to stay anywhere from two to 8 weeks.
Located on Mission St. between 7th and 8th Sts., the Center is next to St. Anthony Foundation’s clothing distribution center. It is housed in a three-story building, with the ground floor for men; the third floor for women; plus dining and community rooms. On the second floor are the headquarters for Community Awareness & Treatment Services, Inc. (CATS), the nonprofit which partnered with DPH to build the respite center that provides transportation and a host of other support services for the City’s adult homeless population. AND is proud of its contribution to San Francisco’s respite care system helping society’s most vulnerable.