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From ground-up green buildings to rehabbed community rooms, architects and designers are enthusiastically embracing community-serving projects that hardily disprove the assumption that beautifully designed spaces are a luxury afforded only to the wealthy.

Can architecture help solve some of San Francisco’s most chronic problems? City officials and some local organizations think it can.

Claudia Juestel is the principal of Adeeni Design Group in san Francisco. She has worked to combine her love of art and design with her passion for community involvement. From mentoring high school students to creating whimsical tablescapes in the name of AIDS research, Juestel is committed to making a difference through design.

On February first, 18 families will be making a big move. They will go from nights spent in their cars, on relative’s couches, split up in shelters or on the streets to a room of their very own. And thanks to Vanessa De Vargas and her team of fellow big-hearted designers, they will be opening the door to more than just a place to escape the elements, but a place to embrace the idea of home.

Approaching the offices of Jeffers Design Group in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, you would never anticipate the wondrous space inside.

San Francisco’s gritty SoMa neighborhood is a likely backdrop for redemption stories of all sorts, but this one, about an abandoned turn-of-the-century industrial factory turned model of sustainability (culminating with an impressive LEED Gold certification), is particularly inspiring.

After training as an architect, launching an event-planning company, climbing the rungs of the advertising world and then heading back to school to initiate yet another major career shift, the one thing Alexander Purcell really needed was a good place to sit down and rest—and while he has successfully created the former, the latter will have to wait.

When Matthew Leverone set out to design a family room for the 2009 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, it was clear that he had a certain type of family in mind—as in, no toddlers running around with grape juice and finger paints.

If designer Gary Hutton’s 30-year career could be summed up with a single image, it would be a shot featuring one of the shapely minimalist furnishings of his own design, complemented by a contemporary work of art—imagine a gracefully torqued steel cocktail table paired with a transcendent Rothko, for example.

Lewis Butler, principal of San Francisco’s Butler Armsden Architects, knows a thing or two about building farmhouses. He comes from a California agriculture family and his parents have owned farms across the state.

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