Santa Monica, California
The beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, with its stylishly laid-back restaurants and hotels, plus freeway access to downtown Los Angeles, may not seem the obvious place for affordable housing. And that's precisely why advocates began safeguarding its modestly priced options more than 30 years ago.
Today, one of the city's biggest residential landlords is a nonprofit affordable-housing organization: the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), a developer-owner-manager with 1,575 units in 88 complexes, and more in the works. Founded in 1982 with a mission to preserve the area's economic and social diversity, the corporation enables service-sector workers to live near their jobs. CCSM has also emerged as a champion of local architectural talent, consistently engaging rising Santa Monica design practices to rehabilitate existing buildings or construct new ones.
One of those firms, Daly Genik Architects (DGA), recently completed its second CCSM project: 2602 Broadway, a 33,000-square-foot, $10.9 million compound with 33 rental units and ancillary community buildings. Though the four residential structures are almost identical in their L-shaped footprints, massing, neighborhood scale, and basic 'kit of parts,' the complex achieves a remarkable sense of variety, with qualities reminiscent of a forest or thicket of tall grasses.
Like most CCSM properties, the urban, 1.5-acre corner parcel was an economical choice, nearer to commercial streets than most residential developments, but with such advantages as proximity to bus and cycling routes.
DGA preserved the site's mature quinine trees and took inspiration from the dappled light, integrating into the architecture tornillo-hardwood screens that evoke a bamboo grove while doubling as balustrades for outdoor stairs and walkways.
For privacy and sustainability, the architects pushed the wood-and-steel-framed buildings to the property edges, focusing views inward to a leafy, starfish-shaped courtyard. The dynamic pinwheel arrangement 'let us offset facing windows,' explains Kevin Daly, DGA principal. 'Also, when people look out through layers of wood screen and landscape, they're more comfortable opening blinds or windows for daylight and cross-ventilation.' Natural airflow replaces air-conditioning, and translucent partitions make even inner zones luminous. Fostering privacy and openness, the public circulation minimizes the number of units passed en route to any front door.
'Green features enhance our building both environmentally and economically,' says CCSM executive director Sarah Letts, whose organization values durability and easy maintenance. 'Our savings help us keep rents low,' she points out, 'and promoting sustainable living helps tenants reduce their utility bills.'
Sustainable measures also animate the place aesthetically and experientially, most strikingly with window surrounds calibrated for solar angles. These powder-coated-aluminum boxes permit a playful array of window sizes while mitigating heat gain. Each residential building has three elevations simply clad in fiber-cement board, but the face most exposed to direct sunlight features these projections. 'Around the site, we rotated the position, or orientation, of the high-performance facade,' says Daly, explaining, in part, why the buildings feel so different from one another. This elevation also cants back, giving the massing greater complexity. Other sustainable features include green roofs and a 15,000-gallon cistern that collects stormwater for irrigation.
The complex is geared toward working families earning significantly less than the area median income. With only two- and three-bedroom units, monthly rents at 2602 Broadway range from $569 to $1,315.
'For us, these projects offer opportunities to rethink housing in general, not just affordable housing,' says Daly. 'They can become templates for small, high-performance infill development in cities everywhere.'
Completion Date: November 2012
Gross square footage: 33,225 square feet
Total construction cost: $10,900,000
1558-C Tenth Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
t. 310 656 3180
f. 310 656 3183
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record: Daly Genik (same as above)
Mechanical Engineer & Plumbing:
CAD system, project management, or other software used: AutoCAD, Rhino, 3d Studio, Submittal Exchange
Aluminum Window Boxes: Custom Designed by Daly Genik, manufactured by Machineous
Rainscreen: Minerit HD Fiber Cement Board panels
Wood: Tornillo hardwood trim and balustrade elements
Moisture barrier: Dupont Tyvek commercial wrap, Dupont flexWrap NF, W.R.Grace Perm-A-Barrier
Elastomeric: Neogard pedestrian coatings
Wood doors: Exterior doors – Therma-Tru Smooth Star Fiberglass doors, Interior doors- Masonite hardboard face doors
Fire-control doors, security grilles: Smoke door – Smoke Guard M400, Overhead coiling Grille – Lawrence Perfomance Grille PGFM, Cookson Rolling Fire door
Closers: Cal-Royal 300 series door closer hardware
Solid surfacing: Solid Surface - Silestone
Resilient flooring: Cork Rubber flooring – Expanco XCR4, Linoleum – Forbo Marmoleum Real, Sheet Vinyl - Mannington Commercial Fine Fields
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: