Brickline Mixed-Use Development
Brickline foresees a continued trend of urban dwellers migrating to suburban areas, particularly to mixed-use transit-oriented developments and urban villages just outside of major cities like San Francisco. These individuals often seek a sense of connection, variety, and liveliness that they once enjoyed in the city. While new mixed-use developments are popping up all over the country, many have been criticized for lacking character and a distinct sense of place. A spate of 2023 articles, including Anna Kodé’s “America the Bland,” explore the issue. Brickline, located in downtown San Mateo, is a mix of premier office space, market-rate housing, and boutique retail that offers an antidote to the “it-could-go-anywhere” development. Situated next to a regional transit hub, the project serves as a new gateway building at the threshold of downtown San Mateo. Brickline exemplifies the potential of transit-oriented development to enhance our experience of each unique city and place through craftsmanship and specificity.
Brickline responds to the City of San Mateo’s architectural legacy with massing, orientation, and materiality that acknowledges the area’s historic detailing, craftsmanship, and overall sense of place. The architecture of Brickline breaks down the four- and five-story massing into discrete pieces that relate to the existing city streetscape. The offices are clad in a distinct yet subtle warm cream colored brick which relates in scale and texture to the adjacent brick and terracotta retail buildings. The openings in the brick facades are treated as punched windows in keeping with the traditional building fabric found in the downtown core. The facades are enhanced and warmed by the use of fluted terracotta panels and wood cladding at the retail storefronts, with a pronounced roof overhang and warm wood soffit at the top of the building. The residential portion of the project is clad in a combination of brick, wood, and gray porcelain panels, with cement plaster within the interior courtyard.
Design elements throughout Brickline are calibrated with the user’s experience in mind. The building organization maintains views to the San Mateo Station clock tower and down primary pedestrian corridors. A narrow portal entry, set back from the primary corner, gives way to a formal circular lobby to establish a clear division between the street and workplace. Similarly, the lobby for the rental units is accessed from a non-retail street at the building posterior to separate the residences from commercial activity. The glassy residential lobby is inviting and evokes elements of a traditional craftsman house—warm wood tones, built-in bookcases, stair elements—to impart a warm, personal feeling. The upper floors wrap around a residential courtyard which faces the Coastal Mountains and is a forested respite from the busy civic center.
As suburbs like San Mateo evolve rapidly to accommodate new residents and workers, Brickline models a place-based approach to mixed-use development.