Housing in LA Today questions the future of housing

“How will we live tomorrow in LA?” This is the central question explored – and, in many cases, answered – in Low Rise, Medium Rise, High Rise: Staying in LA Today. The pop-up exhibit features conceptual, ongoing and recently completed work from over 30 local companies, including Michael Maltzan Architecture, Brooks + Scarpa, Bureau Spectacular, LA Más and Design, Bitches. Helms at the Helms Design Center in Culver City, the exhibition was curated by Frances Anderton, the host of DNA: Design and architecture, a weekly radio show airing on KCRW, and Stephen Phillips, program director of Cal Poly LA Metro and principal architect of SPARCHS. “Currently there is a lot of public debate about housing policy and the homelessness crisis,” Anderton wrote on his blog. “While this conversation is going on, housing construction continues at a steady pace, most of it higher and higher and denser. And people will live in these buildings. This pop-up explores how designers envision this lived experience.

The exhibit, which is now only accessible via a private tour until July 1, begins with speculative housing proposals from Cal Poly program students envisioning a more thoughtful housing infrastructure for the city. “The student work on display shows our focus over the past few years,” explained Phillips during his introduction to the symposium, “to seek more inventive, constructible and sustainable approaches for mixed-use and mixed-income housing communities on a variety of scales and densities in various parts of the city.

Students from the Cal Poly LA Metro program presented images and models of their visions of the city’s response to the demand for increased density (Courtesy Cal Poly LA Metro)

The rest of the gallery space is divided into three scalar categories: Small size, which range from UDAs (secondary suites) to four-story multi-family complexes, halfway up affordable and market-priced housing, and great height, which in Los Angeles reflects all projects over ten floors. Although the projects vary in size, they were each designed to foster an increase in housing density within the famous sprawling city.

Small size

An inclined accessory housing model
Byben designed the ADU Lean-to as a playful and practical second housing unit for any backyard with a sufficiently large and flat plot (Courtesy Byben)

The majority of the projects presented belonged to the category of low-rise buildings, suggesting that the LA of the future will be denser, even more vertical. Several ADU designs, for example, demonstrate playful and creative methods by which city housing can be increased in the backyards of single-family homes. Lean-to ADU, for example, is a modest 550 square foot home with a large porch designed to accommodate any 50 foot wide flat lot and is currently scheduled to begin construction in Pasadena this summer. . Designed by Byben, the house’s tilting gesture was meant to recall structures from the distant past notable for their ingenuity, including the lean-to campground and rabbit trap box.

a diagram of a riverside site with compacted parking
Bestor Architecture’s vision to transform the city’s underutilized industrial areas places parking structures in compact footprints to make room for pedestrian activity (courtesy of Bestor Architecture)

Bestor Architecture presented a bold vision for a variety of mixed-use housing types and commercial structures on the site of underutilized industrial estates along the LA River in Glassell Park.

“In a city that has not designed or built new streets for over thirty years,” the company explained, “redefining manufacturing zones and increasing streetscapes offers an opportunity to put back questioned both LA’s historic single-family zoning as well as the current failing planning of the largely vilified and car-centric podium model. The project envisions the creation of an automated compact parking structure that would allow the site to become user-friendly. pedestrians while providing the legally required number of parking spaces for its residents and commercial spaces.

Average height

Render of a row of four townhouses
One-Full House plans to quadruple the housing density on a property that currently houses a single-family home (Courtesy of SPARCHS)

A four-unit townhouse in Culver City titled One-Full House was designed by SPARCHS to increase housing density and quadruple the value of a site currently occupied by a single-family home slated for demolition. The design’s distinct curves and slopes take inspiration from the geometry of its immediate surroundings to allow the development to fit into its context in a way that would meet strict neighborhood coding guidelines. “By ‘properly sizing’ the neighborhood with height, density, and efficient use of front and back yards,” said Phillips, “One-Full House maximizes the number of family units while keeping roughly the same. ground coverage than the existing one. 1,400 square foot house story. In addition to creating natural shade, private gardens and rooftop terraces, the arrangement of similar units on adjacent lots makes room for a large pocket park available for community use on the edge of the river. street of the property.

A blobby blue residential block
The unique profile of Monterey Apartments is a response to both the parameters of its immediate context as well as the nearby Victorian architecture (courtesy WTARCH)

Warren Techentin Architecture (WTARCH) recently completed Monterey Apartments, a 13-unit apartment building near Highland Park designed to promote more intimate interactions and relationships between its occupants through a cohabitation arrangement. Each unit consists of four small studios and a shared kitchen / living area, and the building includes several community building amenities, such as a gym, pool, spa, and backyard barbecue patio. The façade’s distinct profile has been shaped to avoid nearby power lines, while its Hardie Board shingles are a tribute to the Victorian shingled buildings at nearby Heritage Square museum.

rendering of a low-profile affordable housing complex
The street-facing exterior of Step Up On Vine reveals details of its adaptively reused masonry structure dating from 1928 (Credit: Egan Simon)

Step Up On Vine (SUOV), a 34 affordable housing complex in Hollywood, was designed by Egan Simon for former homeless residents with mental illnesses, and includes several community gathering spaces, including a living room on the ground floor. – floor, a yoga room suitable for distant people. learning and a rooftop terrace with views of downtown Los Angeles. “Residents have the opportunity not only to connect with nature and good health habits,” writes the firm, “but also vocational training in the cafe open to the community”. SUOV received LEED Platinum certification through both its adaptive reuse of a masonry structure built in 1928 and the inclusion of energy efficient features throughout, including shaded areas along the facade that protect the morning and afternoon daylight interior.

High height

Render of a complex group of high-rise apartment buildings
The addition of LOHA to the historic 410 Rossmore building doubles the property’s housing units while preserving the site’s historic character (LOHA)

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) presented an ongoing cohabitation building which is also an adaptive reuse project. The company will build five additional floors of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and cohabitation apartments above the historic structure at 410 Rossmore Avenue, an apartment building completed by the U.S. military in 1944 in Hancock Park, to create a total occupancy of 225 residents. Several social spaces will be scattered, including a swimming pool, a rooftop event space, several coworking extension spaces and outdoor living spaces on its many rooftops. The minimal detail of the addition was designed to blend in with its immediate context while still responding to the monumental mass of the historic building.

Render of white square towers
When completed, the Alvidrez will be one of Michael Maltzan Architecture’s most ambitious housing projects in the Skid Row neighborhood. (Courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture)

Michael Maltzan Architecture presented the Alvidrez, a permanent supportive housing development in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles that is expected to lead the way this year. Commissioned by the Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), the Alvidrez will be Los Angeles’ tallest cross-laminated timber structure when completed, providing 150 affordable housing units to former homeless residents over 14 floors. The building’s vertical forms terminate at varying heights to provide eight exterior roof terraces and provide natural light and ventilation in the individual units. After its estimated completion in 2023, the Alvidrez will be one of the district’s most ambitious projects, which includes many of the company’s earlier projects commissioned by SHRT.

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