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Garden Variety
Development with rooftop farming by Stanley Saitowitz planned for Berkeley.
The 18 buildings will boast interlocking common outdoor spaces; 12 will be topped with rooftop farms.
Courtesy Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects

The zoning board in Berkeley has approved a residential project in the city’s southside area that will include several rooftop farms. The design, by San Francisco–based Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects, was selected as the winner in a competition held by developer Nautilus Group. The project, known as Garden Village, will be pitched to students and young professionals and includes 77 units dispersed over 18 towers of three to five stories.

Rooftop urban gardens approximately 100 square feet each punctuate 12 of the towers. They are expected to yield 32,000 pounds of produce a year, or 175,000 servings of vegetables, such as tomatoes and lettuce. Walkways link the gardens and an elevator transports produce to the basement for processing, where it will be made available for residents and the community.



A commercial building and parking lot currently occupy the site, which fronts Dwight Way to the south and Fulton Street to the west. Anthony Levandowski, a Google employee at the helm of the self-driving cars project, owns the property. Each unit comes fully furnished and the layout is composed of a kitchen and hangout space at the center and a utility room, bedrooms, and bathrooms at the periphery.


The project also includes a comprehensive transportation package, reducing parking spots from 70 cars to 10 through a partnership with car share program Getaround. Additional perks include storage for more than 200 bikes, transportation passes, bike locker cards, and a dedicated self-service bike repair area.

The village was approved by the city last month, but principal Stanley Saitowitz noted that the process wasn’t easy due to the building’s uniqueness. “It is not a mediocre stucco apartment building with bay windows like those being built elsewhere in Berkeley, so the lack of familiarity was what people reacted to,” said Saitowitz.

Construction via factory built modules is expected to begin this June, with the residences opening in summer 2015.

Ariel Rosenstock