Green Housing Pro Bono
Photovoltaic arrays provide power, as well as shading for the two fifth-floor terraces. Another system of solar panels is located on the roof and is used to heat the water for the building.
The courtyard garden creates a microclimate and offers crossventilation through each of the units, lessening the need for cooling devices. We also installed custom exterior screens on all window walls for sun protection and privacy.
|Sierra Bonita Affordable Housing
7530 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, California
Client West Hollywood CommunityHousing Corporation
Client Liaison Robin Conerly, executive director
Design Architect Patrick Tighe Architecture
Design Team Nick Hopson, Yosuke Hoshina, Lisa Little, Karla Mueller, Jarod Poenisch, Peter Storey, Patrick Tighe, Risa Tsutsumi
Landscape Design AHBE Landscape Design
Photography Art Grey Photography
Area 50,000 square feet (4,600 square meters)
Site Area 13,125 square feet (1,219 square meters)
Cost $12.5 million
Estimated value of
pro bono design services $100,000
Program Ground-floor retail space and 42 one-bedroom apartment units.
The building is of steel construction; a series of moment frames was used to allow for maximum windows, and a braced frame core was introduced to reinforce the void that is the courtyard.
The eccentric braced frame at the courtyard garden was expressed as a five-story exterior lattice that was encased in pink fiberglass.
The organic form counters the rigidity of the stacked volumes that make up the building. Along the boulevard, we pulled several of the units toward the street, to activate the facade, to capture movement and life.
The courtyard is a special place for the residents, and it gives them a reprieve from the heavy traffic along the boulevard. A series of paths with built-in seating cuts through the central space, and natural light filters through the bamboo.
From the courtyard, each of the residents can enter his or her unit. Where buildings usually have balconies that face the street, Sierra Bonita's private outdoor spaces face the courtyard.
By having each unit's front porch overlook the garden, we're encouraging social interaction among the residents and creating a community. The courtyard really is the heart of the project.
The building is being populated through a lottery; there were over 2,000 applicants for the forty-two units.
We had many community meetings during the process of designing the project, and as a result there was little opposition. The community members feel proud to be involved; the building also belongs to them. We worked extremely hard to make sure that the design ended up getting built and that the quality of the project was sustained through the process.
In that respect, Sierra Bonita truly was a labor of love. As an architect, sometimes you show up at the job site and realize that everyone there is probably getting paid more than you are.
But in the end, the building is very important and the user group needs an advocate. It is my hope that through the design of this building, awareness is raised and perhaps the standard of affordable housing will be, too.
Looking back at the history of public housing in the U.S., much of it was built as cheaply and haphazardly as possible, and it ended up destroying communities in the process.
If an area was identified as "blighted," it was torn down and rebuilt. The planning theories employed were based on having large, common, open spaces with segregated uses and lots of parking.
Over time, we've learned that doesn't really work. Tassafaronga is on the site of an isolated, poorly maintained public housing project that had deteriorated. It had been neglected for a long time and most of the units weren't even occupied, so the OHA took the opportunity to start over and create more appropriate building types.
Tassafaronga is part of a larger redevelopment effort. There's a new school nearby, as well as a community center.
The program from Habitat for Humanity simply asked us to provide a certain number of units, with a certain amount of parking, and a certain unit mix. The larger, three-unit buildings we developed were beyond what Habitat was used to — the whole site was tight, and there wasn't as much parking as many of the organization's other sites have.
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Patrick Tighe is principal and lead designer of Los Angeles-based Patrick Tighe Architecture. David Baker, FAIA is the principal and founder of David Baker + Partners, a firm in San Francisco.
This article is excerpted from The Power of Pro Bono: 40 Stories about Design for the Public Good by Architects and Their Clients by Edited by John Cary and Public Architecture, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Metropolis Books.