seidel/holzman, san francisco This transformation from suburban parking lot to high-density housing for university students and young professionals was "extraordinarily well-done" said the judges. Architect Alex Seidel calls his architecture eclectic, with its mix of materials and imagery drawn from the area's agricultural antecedents. The judges described it as "quite elegant" with "inventive shapes" executed in a "simple vocabulary." They also admired the generous outdoor area, a courtyard that serves double duty as communal green space and individual access to the units. The units also have private balconies and patios. It's a neat feat given the stratospheric land costs in the heart of Silicon Valley. Seidel credits architectural efficiency. By omitting corridors, he was able to add square footage. "I look at my projects as if I were going to live in them," he says. "I've lived in compounds of small residences, and just having the variety of different spaces really enriches the way people inhabit the place."

That variety extends to his use of materials: Vertical board-and-batten siding, stained 2-by-4s, and corrugated galvanized roof panels mix with horizontal fiber-cement siding, composition shingles, and Seidel's contemporary sensibility.

project architect: Alexander Seidel, FAIA, Seidel/Holzman
land planner: Alexander Seidel, FAIA, Seidel/Holzman
developer: Mark Kroll, Regis Homes of Northern California, Foster City, Calif.
general contractor: Dan Deibel, Regis Contractors of Northern California, Foster City
landscape architect: Paul Lettieri, The Guzzardo Partnership, San Francisco
project size: 650 to 895 square feet per unit
site size: 1.5 acres
construction cost: $75 per square foot
rental price: $1,400 to $2,600 per month
units in project: 46
photographer: Tom Rider