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What do you do when you have a strip of land 125 feet wide and a mere 15.25 feet deep?
The answer: Design a building 15.25 feet deep.
When a section of the double-deck Central Freeway in San Francisco was replaced with a short, ground-level Octavia Boulevard in 2005, the project generated thin strips of left-over land along the new thoroughfare. The 125-foot width of the properties was “the end grain of a city block,” explains architect Daniel Parolek, a principal in Opticos Design in Berkeley.
The San Francisco Prize, which is meant to promote good urban design, sponsored a competition for designs for a half-dozen parcels along the boulevard in Hayes Valley. At CNU 19 in Madison, Wisconsin, Parolek presented his firm’s proposal for two lots, which won an award of merit in the competition.
Each shallow lot, said Parolek, could accommodate 15.25-foot-deep, four-story buildings containing small, incubator retail spaces on the ground level and three floors of housing above. To compensate for the lack of outdoor space at the rear, each building would have two-story terraces overlooking the boulevard.
The living units — six dwellings with two-story layouts that interlock with one