Blackbirds, an 18-unit residential project in Los Angeles, designed by local architect Barbara Bestor, broke ground this spring, and its developers hope it becomes a new prototype for adding to the city’s density while preserving a sense of community. Built on a hillside in Echo Park, by sustainably-minded development company LocalConstruct, Blackbirds is a mix of houses ranging from 1,350 to 1,950 square feet on a one-acre lot (made possible because of a 2004 small lot ordinance that allowed a number of home lots to be subdivided). All of the units are fully detached single-family houses, explains LocalConstruct co-founder Casey Lynch, but some appear to be duplexes or triplexes because the units only have four inches between them to maximize density.
The project blends in with the bungalows in the area because of its pitched-roof design. Bestor chose to alternate the cladding on the units: blue-black fiber cement panels that look like wood, or white standing seam metal. “It’s not a cookie cutter, everything-is-the-same kind of project,” says Bestor. “Instead you have a grouping of like-minded things.”