March 16, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

Q+A with Amanda Loper: SFHAC’s Project Review Chair + Star Architect

amandaloperThe SF Housing Action Coalition continues to strive to place the best and brightest our Executive Committee to keep our non-profit relevant and current. In 2015, Amanda Loper, the newest Principal at David Baker Architects was elected to serve on our Executive Committee and chair one of our best assets, the SFHAC’s Project Review Committee. We had a chance to sit down with Amanda recently to ask her some hard-hitting questions and congratulate her on her recent promotion.

How did you get to be a Principal at David Baker Architects?
Almost 10 years ago, I interviewed with David Baker who had just made a rule not to hire people right out of school and with no local references. I must have wooed him with my portfolio (including a thesis about the urban realm) and my southern charm because a month later, he emailed me and offered me the job. Most recently, he invited me to become a Principal and help lead the future of the firm.

What do you enjoy most about being an architect?
I love my work because I genuinely feel like I participate everyday in the shaping of San Francisco. Whether designing at the scale of a city block or a ground floor interior space, it is an opportunity to enhance and engage the city fabric. Recently, I’ve been lucky to have a voice in shaping policy and conversations about density through the firm’s work on the local Density Bonus Program. This translates into thoughtfully designed density: more homes for people of all income levels.

Now that you are Chair of the Project Review Committee, what are some goals you have this year?
We strive to have fun, lively discussions at Project Review on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday mornings. We keep our members educated and foster new ideas around housing by inviting thought leaders in our industry to present their research and expertise to the committee. Most importantly, our hope is that our collective voice has weight with project sponsors as well as city officials and policy makers. When we advocate for a project, we want that to be meaningful.

What could we be doing to address the housing crisis?
We cannot be afraid to take action! We can absolutely house people who want to live here but it won’t happen on our current trajectory and there is not one magic solution. We need to thoughtfully encourage development and density where it’s not happening:

Reinvent the Area Plan – Strategically insert density in our existing neighborhoods along transit corridors and commercial main streets.
Pass the San Francisco Density Bonus – This program will allow developers a little extra density as a reward for providing more affordable units, including some for middle income residents.
2-9 unit developments – Encourage small developments that would pack a big punch toward adding additional housing at a scale that is not overwhelming and can transition from denser transit corridors to lower scaled neighborhoods.
Encourage Accessory Dwelling Units – This has been referred to as “invisible density” because it adds housing to existing physical envelopes. It has hardly any visual effect on a neighborhood and is much much cheaper than new construction.

What do you love about living in San Francisco?
It is stunning – the light, the topography, the bay. It’s a world-class city but a small town. I can ride my bike from one end to the other and stop for delicious coffee, incredible museums, tasty food, gorgeous views, and great cocktails all along the way.

The SF Housing Action Coalition is lucky to have rising stars like Amanda Loper on our Executive Committee and Chairing our Project Review Committee. If you are a Business or Organizational member of the SF Housing Action Coalition, we invite you to come to our upcoming Project Review meetings to weigh in on our 8-areas of smart urban design. Details here.

Image credit: David Baker Architects

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

Stay Up to Date

Get weekly updates with housing news, HAC updates, and more!