MLK1101 Supportive Housing
By : Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 15th edition
Discipline : Architecture
Categories : Residential Building / Affordable Housing : Gold Certification
Responding to an urgent need in Los Angeles for housing catered to formerly homeless veterans and chronically homeless and low-income households, LOHA collaborated with Clifford Beers Housing to transform a vacant, unimproved lot in South LA into a 100% affordable housing community, providing 26-units for previously homeless veterans and low-income families.
LOHA’s LEED Gold design for MLK1101 Supportive Housing aims to create an environment that encourages health and community, acknowledging that successful social spaces come through a variety of planned and organic strategies. LOHA incorporates several design strategies that open the building towards the street and foster a sense of community within the neighborhood.
Prioritizing social equity, health, and well-being of residents over isolation, we opted for an L-shaped typology that allows every apartment to receive sunlight and cross ventilation, reducing the need for heating, cooling, and artificial light, and allowing for the inclusion of an elevated green patio for residents to relax and socialize away from the noise of the street. MLK1101 Supportive Housing employs the latest strategies in environmentally responsible, forward-thinking green design to maximize space and benefit the entire community. The building was certified LEED gold and features include high-efficiency heating and cooling, appliances and fixtures, solar water heating, electric vehicle charging and bike parking.
At the street level LOHA’s design capitalizes on a requirement for on-site parking by creating an elevated community garden and social hub for residents and neighbors, that sits atop the street level parking. In order to establish a street presence, the parking is tucked behind a storefront space and a widened staircase that connects the street to the community spaces one level up. This stoop is a gathering space and a public gesture, encouraging the types of resident and neighborhood interaction often missing in supporting housing. The goal of the two retail units at the street level, is to generate income that will help subsidize the housing while providing workforce training to residents so that they can transition back into society.
The units are designed for individuals and families, ranging in size from one to three bedrooms each with their own bathroom, and all are equipped with kitchens and living spaces. Tenants are encouraged to use the shared amenities in the community room, which has shared kitchen and dining areas for cooking classes, potlucks, group therapy, and other planned / impromptu gatherings. An outdoor garden with drought-tolerant plants and raised-bed edible gardens connects the community room to the living spaces, giving residents a place to relax and socialize. All the units for MLK1101 Supportive Housing are accessed through exterior walkways. While the unit layouts are efficiently identical on each floor, the walkways vary in width for a more dynamic, staggered elevation and to create more informal gathering spaces and opportunities for residents to socialize.
Further advancing previous experience working with Clifford Beers Housing and other supportive housing organizations like the Skid Row Housing Trust, LOHA’s design acknowledges the successful track record these housing complexes have had with integrating various populations, bringing supportive services in-house, and creating uplifting living environments for people to thrive.