San Francisco’s historic Central YMCA (1909), a nine-story Classical building located in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, has been transformed into supportive housing for the homeless and a health center for residents of supportive housing and the homeless. The adaptive use project created 174 micro-units of permanent housing and preserved the original sky-lit second-floor lobby, auditorium, full-size gymnasium, offices, and meeting rooms.
The LEED Gold health center occupies 11,700 square feet of a former locker room and support space on the ground floor, and the original swimming pool in the basement has been converted to a multipurpose room. Renovations in the 1950s removed the grand entry staircase, which led directly from the street to the second-floor lobby. This lobby has now been restored as the heart of the building, including a new grand stair, a small street-level lobby, accessible elevator, and improved circulation throughout the upper floors. Residential wings and 24 new units constructed above the historic gym wrap the light well above the lobby.
The small residential units—the Y’s former hotel rooms, approximately 200 square feet each—preserve the original window bays and gain spaciousness from their generous proportions and high ceilings. All units provide ample storage, cooking facilities, and individual bathrooms. A new radiant heating system, energy efficient lighting and ventilation, and the use of healthy materials support sustainability and resident well-being. Terrazzo stairs, tile walls, wood ceilings, and translucent planters around the new grand stair were chosen for their compatibility with the historic wood, tile, and marble finishes, which were meticulously preserved. The building includes 1,450 square feet of corner retail space on the street level.