It has inspired countless books, movies, and adventures. Now, the pull of the railroad has become the inspiration for a hip, urban loft project.

Faced with an unusual, triangular site with limited space, architect Rob Steinberg of The Steinberg Group in San Jose, Calif., looked to the imagery of the surrounding area—which includes a Japanese community as well as the nearby railroad—for design inspiration. Nestled in an industrial area, the Markethouse Lofts were designed to resemble a series of boxcars, a sort of tribute to the trains that run nearby. Developer Sares•Regis helped bring the $12 million project to life.

Four buildings on the site house 53 one-bedroom units. While economical to build, each individual unit's interior height of 18 feet allowed for imaginative divisions of the rectangular spaces, creating three very different plan options for prospective residents. Corrugated metal exteriors and rich, red tones borrow from adjacent warehouses and canneries. Large windows pay homage to both the industrial and Japanese local influences.