Not only must our M2 design blend with the neighborhood at 5th and Mission, align with the 5M Development plan, and activate this area to become a vibrant, thriving community, it must somehow fit into the future neighborhood too. Our design challenge: Translate all these considerations into something practical, beautiful, and transcendent.
Architecturally and culturally, M2’s existing neighborhood is highly diverse. A vibrant Filipino-American culture shares space, not always comfortably or equally, with some of the world’s most capitalized tech firms of Google, Facebook and Salesforce and an enviable cultural district featuring an array of art museums.
Our design approach connects interior and exterior considerations, each informing the other to create a fulfilling resident experience. By analyzing the building from the inside out to determine where to position each of the 302 units and amenity spaces, we were able to fully integrate M2 into its human and physical environment, bring community value, accommodate a full spectrum of meaningful experiences, reduce the barriers between inside and outside spaces, and maintain the site’s architectural and site history. Given M2's location at a key transition point from the downtown to western SoMa, our design emphasizes the aesthetic characteristics of both areas while focusing on the human scale.
Accordingly, our design evokes authenticity and a sense of place, using site-specific materials like brick and weathered metal panels that also raise the neighborhood’s design bar. Themes of craftsmanship and natural materials are layered atop traditional glass and steel elements—nostalgic grit meets fresh refinement.
The concept of gradients informs our overall design language. In the case of M2, we’ve defined this aesthetic as an architectural expression that finds beauty within the imperfections of materials and accepts the cycles of growth and aging. It celebrates those marks—cracks, crevices, asymmetrical variations—that time, weather, and loving use leave behind on materials. Gradient comprises colors and materials that evolve with time; it’s expressed through materials like copper and colors inspired by ocean water and rust.
M2’s body massing responds to this concept with a simple, authentic, subtle, and proportioned design. At the street level, where our stepped base design reflects adjacent building forms while interfacing with M2’s upper gradient, we used heavily textured, dark terra-cotta. Metals, such as copper, accentuates strategic areas of the base, transitioning from a warm orange to a muted green. At the upper floors, variegated colored panels add interest to the simple massing and draw visitors’ eyes upward along the height of the building.