Brickline Housing, Retail, and Workplace

Just steps from a regional transit hub and a thriving downtown, Brickline anticipates the continued trend of city dwellers migrating to urban villages just outside of major cities. With easy connections and plenty of choice, walkable suburbs offer the lifestyle that many have come to expect. But as mixed-use, transit-oriented developments pop up all over the country, many have been criticized for lacking character and a distinct sense of place. A spate of articles, including Anna Kodé’s “America the Bland,” explore the issue. Brickline offers an antidote to “it-can-go-anywhere” development. Through materiality and site specificity, Brickline—which includes a mix of housing, offices, and retail—reads as endemic to the City of San Mateo, with its walkable streets, distinct storefronts, ample open space, and blend of historic and modern architecture.

Paying homage to San Mateo’s distinct sense of place and strong community was important to Prometheus Real Estate Group, a family-owned company dedicated to creating homes and neighborhoods that feel authentic and foster a sense of belonging. The company—which recently opened its new headquarters onsite—was founded upon the vision to transform apartment living by attending to every inch of detail, from site selection to interiors. This culture of excellence has enabled Prometheus to give back their time and, on average, over thirty percent of their cash flow (through their foundation, the Helen Diller Foundation) to support positive change, locally and beyond. For example, they adopt a non-profit in every city in which they operate, including sponsoring, for example, City of Dreams, whose mission it is to help the youth living in San Francisco’s underserved communities build brighter futures through mentorship and youth development.

Spanning a city block, Brickline is organized in discrete pieces to break down its massing and take cues from the existing streetscape. A combination of brick, wood, and ribbed metal panels differentiate the five-story residences while cream-colored brick and punched windows distinguish the four-story offices, relating in scale and texture to adjacent brick and terracotta clad buildings. Fluted glazed terracotta panels, wood cladding, and a pronounced roof overhang lend additional warmth and variation to the facades. Ground floor retail adds to the city’s offerings while creating buzz along the street.

To provide a sense of domain and privacy, residents enter from a quiet, tree-lined street adjacent to other homes. Transparent and light, the entry lobby, or commons, evokes a traditional craftsman with warm wood tones, built-in bookcases, seating nooks, and a central stair. Thoughtful touches, like brass pendants, brushed canvas bench cushions, and a custom wall graphic inspired by William Morris’ Marigold pattern, create a distinct and homey feel. The studios and one-bedroom apartments frame a second-floor courtyard, with lounge seating, fire pits, and views of the mountains. Floor to ceiling windows pull in natural light and sweeping views, complementing the healthy, warm materials and subtly playful palette of each unit. A rooftop deck and garden, along with a fully loaded chef’s kitchen, invite residents to “connect with others in a neighbor way,” a core tenet of Prometheus’ company culture.

The interior design of Prometheus’ new workplace was similarly bent toward making people feel at home—in fact, every detail reflects a process more common in the planning and design of a custom residential project. Inspired by California’s iconic residential modernism, this workplace is characterized by openness, multifunctionality, indoor/outdoor flows, and views to nature. The program is organized around a central stair, capped with a glass and louvered roof, pulling natural light deep into the workplace. The stair connects to the rooftop, with ample seating and striking views. No detail was spared; every textile, wood accent, metal, furnishing and fixture was hand-selected to offer the comfort and individuality of one’s own domain. Indeed, the custom white oak, hidden screens, leather accent panels, copper pulls, ceramic fixtures, and wool-lined walls create a lush, welcoming sense of being “home at work,” fitting for a company that uses residential real estate to advance the greater good.

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