“The quality of a neighborhood depends on the quality of design and on the people who live there.”

In spite of its density, the look and feel of College Heights design will be spacious. Three-story buildings are designed to be set back from each other. Parks, land contour variations, facades, trees, and other landscaping would add visual appeal along varied sight lines.

At College Heights, design supports community with human-scale, three story buildings, courtyards that foster knowing one’s neighbors, and quiet, traffic-free walkways. College Heights encourages social interaction at the office and shops in the Village Square. Round-the-clock security adds an extra dimension of safety, reinforcing social ties. The design invites people outside in good weather to walk, jog, or sit on the porch. Those who want privacy will have it; those who want social interaction will enjoy the Community Center, the residents’ association, and community events. All these elements combine to support a sense of community with respect for diversity and privacy.

Façades: Victoriana?

The project would have an appealing design for the Village Center, streetscapes, building façades, and open spaces. The design would not be for an architect to make a statement, but for residents to feel comfortable, at home, and feeling that they are living in a good place. The design creates a perception of spaciousness and visual interest in a high-density neighborhood: not how dense to build it, but how to build it dense (and not look dense).

Façade separation

With two feet of building setback and a walkway width of 20 feet, distance between building facades is 24 feet. The goal is to optimize density without sacrificing attractive design. Ten more feet of separation would be aesthetically better, at the cost of units and the walk-in demand needed to support the Café and Corner Store. By the same token, going to four stories, 24 feet apart would give an aesthetic of high density.

Should back yards be ten feet deep instead of the 15 feet? Five less feet in back on double loaded walkways would allow a walkway width of 32 feet, aesthetically more open. At this time, the 15-foot backyard wins as it gets more direct household use.

Attractive façades

The need for affordability requires simple boxy buildings with large flat walls.

Nevertheless, strong visual appeal is possible using balconies, pushouts, bay windows, insets, decorative wall features, color, window flower boxes, stylish streetlamps, the Hayward City logo “H”, a College Heights stylized logo, or some other consistent aesthetically pleasing design strategically placed here and there.

The facades will be pleasant and interesting to look at, “a gift to the walkway.”

Hail, Britannia!

I have done extensive research on Victorian design and would like to see it considered.

Here is a long list of Victorian design elements: lapped siding, roof cornices, transoms, slanted and square bay windows; balustrades, porches and porticos; decorative elements on walls, window hoods, nine-light windows, window shields, and other window trim; cornices and gables, quoins, finials, bargeboards, spindle work, and sawn decoratives; decorative sticks and shingles; rosettes, buttons, bullets, and sunbursts; dentils and beading; brackets; pilasters, columns, and colonnettes with caps and capitals; friezes and panels with wreaths, rinceaux or garlands, balusters, and newel posts.

College Heights could use Victorian colors schemes, which are sets of three-color palettes consisting of a light toned main color, a stronger contrasting trim color, and a flashy highlighting color used with restraint. The image above gives more ideas. More high-quality façades in multiple-unit projects are in the College Heights archive.


Streetscape is the view down the street. For walking, visibility of destination is helpful but only up to a point. The design has mid-length views, with a bend at Midway Walk. It also has magnificent, graceful curves along Crescent Walk and the Foothill Trail. Other streetscapes view parks and the Foothill Trail, buildings at various angles, and short distances. A few units have views of the Bay to the west.


Trees and greenery add visual appeal. Trees are spaced to avoid too many trees that could darken the street, hide the buildings, and overpower the rest of the design. At intersections, the project could have statuary lions or something similar on short pedestals opposite old-fashioned streetlights to create appealing entry ways. The two-foot setbacks on walkways are landscaped and windows have flower boxes, maintained by the HOA. The main walkway has two small plazas.

Focus groups

My opinionated enthusiasm should not get in the way of the final design. People know what they want to buy. Focus groups may help designers see the plans as the public would and design according to market appeal. Designers and focus groups can decide on marketing language to sell the project.