Star Designers Leave Their Imprint on New San Francisco Developments

Mansion Global - September 24, 2016
By Rebecca Bratburd

In San Francisco, the luxury condominium market has slowed down, yet still looks bright. Every year since 2012, the overall average sales price has increased year after year, according to Sotheby’s. However, in the second quarter of this year, the average sales price year-over-year for condominiums dropped 2.2%. The average sales price for a condominium in the second quarter of 2016 was $1.29 million compared with $1.36 million in the second quarter of 2015.

In that same time frame, Paragon Real Estate’s second quarter market report stated: “Very generally speaking, the market for more affordable homes is stronger than that for luxury homes; the market for houses stronger than that for condos; and the market for luxury condos cooling most distinctly.”

Still, properties like 181 Fremont—the city’s new super premium development —continue to emerge.

And it’s not unusual to see expensive materials worked into the interior design of these developments, as well as unique and value-adding amenities from private lounges, clubs, upscale libraries, and fully-equipped gymnasiums. Concierges, often available 24-hours a day, are typically standard and ready to assist residents in myriad ways.

Here are some new developments on the market this fall:


181 Fremont



181 Fremont is the most premium building that has come to the market in San Francisco, period. Serving as what will likely be designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy’s swan song, according to Joseph Lucier of Sotheby’s International Realty, residences start on the 54th floor of the mixed-use building.

Luxury condos occupy the top 17 floors of the 801-foot tower, which annexes to the forthcoming Transbay Transit Center. There, residents will not only find 11 different transit systems but also a 4.5-acre rooftop park. Views include the elevated park and the SoMa cityscape on the lower floors, and sweeping views of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and Treasure Island from the upper floors. Inside, rich and luxurious materials are ubiquitous, like marble from Italy, wood from New Guinea, and brass door handles from France. Sales opened to the market in May, and construction is set to complete in 2017.


Number of units: 55 units and an additional 12 suites, akin to hotel suites for purchase by residents
Price range: Studios start at $1 million-plus; two-bedrooms start at $3 million
Developer/architect: Jay Paul/Heller Manus Architects
Apartment sizes: Studios, junior one-bedrooms, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms, and five penthouses—four half-floor units (up to 3,500 square feet) and one full floor unit (up to 7,000 square feet)
Amenities: Parking, bike storage, fitness center and yoga room, four lounge spaces, a library, conference room, bar and catering kitchen, and concierge
Website: 181 Fremont


The Harrison, 401 Harrison Street

The Harrison

The Harrison

Amenities stand front and center at the Harrison—from personal grocery shoppers to Uncle Harry’s, an exclusive residents’ club with live entertainment. The residential building stands at 49 stories and is perched upon Rincon Hill, giving it considerable elevation above the water and views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Detailed and layered Old World design are featured in the residences, common areas and amenities, thanks to interior designer Ken Fulk, who notably designed Facebook executive Sean Parker’s lavish wedding in Big Sur.

Sales for one-bedroom and two-bedrooms are underway now, and three-bedrooms are not yet available.

The Harrison

Number of units: 298
Price range: One bedrooms range from $800,000-$1.6 million; two bedrooms range from $1.2 million-$1.7 million; three bedrooms will be available, but the number of units and price range have not yet been released to the market
Developer/architect: The Mark Company/Maximus Real Estate Partners/Solomon Cordwell Buenz
Apartment sizes: One bedroom, two bedrooms, and three bedrooms. The top floors are uniquely spacious because of higher ceiling heights
Amenities: An on-site concierge team called The Harrison Attaché, attended lobby, valet, and a lounge on the 49th floor called Uncle Harry’s, a two-story library in the lobby, outdoor heated infinity pool, fitness center
Website: The Harrison


The Pacific, 2121 Webster Street

The Pacific at 2121 Webster Street

The Pacific at 2121 Webster Street

The Pacific is the first luxury doorman building to be constructed in the neighborhood in over 30 years. Individual units are bound to feel spacious with 11.5-foot ceiling heights, floor-to-ceiling windows, and views of Alta Plaza Park. Residents have the option of choosing between standard apartment dimensions, or for an even homier vibe, residents can spring for townhouses with three levels or three bedrooms from the row house collection with additional baths. Outside, plenty of restaurants and shops are a half block away on Fillmore Street.

Sales of townhouses began late last year, and units in the main building began selling earlier this year for move-ins later this year.

Number of units: 76
Price range: One bedrooms start at $1.495 million; two-bedrooms range from $2.295 million to $3.095 million; three-bedrooms range from $3.495 million to $4.195 million; penthouse and grand penthouse pricing is available upon request
Developer/Architect: Trumark Urban/Handel Architects; Renown designer Jay Jeffers designed three custom residences
Apartment sizes: One-bedroom, two-bedrooms, three-bedrooms, three-level townhouses, four penthouses and four two-level grand penthouses. The penthouse collection homes come as custom shells with no framing, drywall, fixtures, or flooring.
Amenities: Valet parking, concierge, guest suite, yoga garden and fitness studio, penthouse level observatory lounge for homeowners, guest suite
Website: The Pacific

Published in Mansion Global September 24, 2016

By Rebecca Bratburd

Orlando Diaz-Azcuy - ODADA

The Refined Sophisticate

Upon entering Orlando Diaz-Azcuy’s atelier in the old Brooks Brothers Building, one is transported into a world of symmetry, refinement, and shades of neutrality that provide a dreamlike atmosphere where impossibilities become suspended.  The bustle of Union Square below echoes his homeland of Cuba from where he immigrated before earning a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Catholic University in Washington DC, and Master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning from University of California at Berkeley.  Orlando made his way into early prominence during his partnership with Arthur Gensler where his trained eye and keen knack for integrating custom materials into high profile designs gained him recognition as Designer of the Year by Interiors Magazine.  Beginning his own firm in 1987, Orlando eventually transitioned from commercial work into the world of private residences from earlier relationships with John Levin of the Folger & Levin law offices downtown and his relationship with the Haas family.  Navigating through the traditional interior demands of the city’s beau monde to his signature contemporary vernacular was a patient process.  In time, Orlando’s deft sense of spatial relationships and his ability to incorporate traditional pieces into contemporary interiors made him the last word in a luxury tier where true sophistication is understood by so few.  Current clients reside in New York and the Hamptons and anticipate the completion of residences at 181 Fremont in San Francisco. 

Our recent time together with the impeccably mannered Orlando revealed a man who still lives to caress blank paper with pencil, tells a story with the twinkle of creative wit, and relaxes looking back over a career where his talents and life intermingled to result in timeless designs.

orlando diaz-azcuy

orlando diaz-azcuy

CaenLucier: What inspires your creativity in the design process?

Orlando Diaz-Azcuy: Everything. But peace of mind and quiet are essential. I must be happy where I am designing. If not, I put my pencil away. I design a lot in the middle of the night.

CL: You still like to create ideas with the intimacy of pencil on paper.  How have you seen technology aid and enhance the design process over the years?

ODA: Because I am of an older generation, eventually it will become as second nature to designers as the pencil has been to us. It all depends on the speed of your ideas and ability to illustrate them quickly on the computer.

CL: You and Arthur Gensler had a very successful business relationship for years.  How did it begin?

ODA: I was working for EPR (Environmental Planning and Research) in the early Seventies and designed the McDonald’s in John Portman’s Embarcadero Center.  The restaurant got a national recognition award that year.  Arthur was looking for a designer at the time and hired me.  We ended up having very good fortune together doing most of the law offices in town, the first United Airlines Red Carpet Room, the San Francisco International Terminal, Wells Fargo and Levi’s Plaza.  At Gensler’s 50th Anniversary event, Arthur was kind enough to say to the room how valuable my contribution had been to the success of the firm.

CL: What prompted you to go out on your own after so much time with Gensler?

ODA: I was approached by Hickory Business Furniture while at Gensler to help them transition their look from traditional to more contemporary without their clientele abandoning them.  The product did very well.  However, within an AIA membership, a professional could not design furniture and sell it to their clients.  Arthur and I made an agreement and rented a top floor in a nearby building to design furniture named ODA Design.  That’s how I began. The first summer, I decided not to go back to managing people.  The first collection was so successful that I had plenty of money and I told Arthur that I was not going to come back.  There was no animosity and I did not take any clients from Gensler.


CL: How was the transition of going out on your own?

ODA: Initially, no one would hire me for residential work, because it is such a traditional town.  I even began with my own residence at 1050 Green Street in 1982 using more antiques in this traditional French building.  I knew French and English furniture as well as my competitors did, but that is not where my heart was.  Then I started doing something that no one was doing, which was taking new buildings, new interiors and placing a few antique pieces to give a soft feeling that can’t be discerned as traditional or contemporary, but it feels good.  This look started coming into vogue.  You started to see designers like Peter Marino and others in New York starting to move in this direction.  That is how I established my name here.  If someone wanted a comfortable, understated elegant house with no draperies or tassels…go to Orlando. 

CL: How have you refined your alchemy of informing modern design with traditional elements and furnishings?

ODA: Design is evolution and incorporation of all times.

CL: Which designers/architects that have preceded you do you admire?

ODO: A long list. Everyone gives you a little something as inspiration, but there are the ones that you relate to. For me, Josef Hoffman, Adolf Loos, Luis Barragan, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Meier.

CL: How were you selected to work on Jay Paul’s 181 Fremont project?

ODA: I was introduced to Jay through the architect, Heller Manus.  Jeffrey Heller and I had worked at together at Gensler.

CL: What has your involvement been like working with Jay Paul?

ODA: Very early on, I told the Jay Paul organization that the integrity of my designs had to be followed. I must participate in any modification or deviation from the original design. So far, it has been an excellent relationship.

CL: How would you compare or contrast 181 Fremont Street to 15 Central Park West, as both are pulling the center of established luxury to other parts of town.

ODA: 181 Fremont is about luxury of materials, the quality and quantity of space, while 15 CPW is acquired status by the social/business connections of the developer and the business profile of the tenants. 

CL: What are your current favorite luxury materials that you are incorporating into your designs?

ODA: I never have current materials or colors, etc. in mind. That is fashion. There is nothing like natural materials. They are timeless.

CL: If you could design a high rise project similar to 181 Fremont in any international city, what city would you choose?

ODA: Mexico City and Hong Kong.

CL: How would you define a privileged life?

ODA: One that is well-lived. Privilege is not about money, it is what you give and what is given to you.

CL: Favorite restaurant?

ODA: In San Francisco, A-16. I love Shelley and Greg.

CL: What are you currently reading?

ODA: The biography of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, “RBG”. “The Sellout” by Paul Beatty. “The Course of Love”’ by Alain de Botton.

CL: What do you like to do during your free time?

ODA: Designing for design’s sake. Whatever comes to mind! Attending the opera and ballet. Being in our house in the country in Lucas Valley.

CL: In closing, Is there a private part of your life that you would like to share.

ODA: The pleasures and tribulations of being an immigrant. All you have to learn, to adapt on your own, without help.

odada  - post street offices

odada - post street offices