News & Awards

Durability + Design

High Honors Elevate Low-Income Designs

Four California housing projects serving low-income communities and the homeless have been nationally recognized for their design, materials and building techniques, illuminating a housing sector normally out of the design spotlight.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards in four categories:

  • Excellence in Affordable Housing Design;
  • Creating Community Connection Award;
  • Community-Informed Design Award; and
  • Housing Accessibility: Alan J. Rothman Award.

“These awards demonstrate that design matters,” the AIA said in its announcement.

Kelly Cullen Community

Photos courtesy of AIA; photographer indicated; © Mark Luthringer

The recipient of the Creating Community Connection Award was the Kelly Cullen Community project in San Francisco, a transformation of a 1909 YMCA building into supportive housing and health center.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan added, “This year’s recipients are shining examples of how the latest innovations in design, materials and building techniques are not just for high-end housing but can also offer lower-income families exceptional homes they can actually afford.”

AIA’s descriptions below give a brief summary of the projects. More details are available by clicking the name of the winning projects/firms.

Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award

This award recognizes architecture that demonstrates overall excellence of design in response to the needs and constraints of affordable housing.

28th Street Apartments; Los Angeles
Koning Eizenberg Architects Inc.

This project, completed in 2012, restored a 1926 YMCA building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and originally designed by noted African American architect Paul R. Williams. The project also featured a new five-story building addition at the rear of the existing structure.

The original building was restored with some of the original architectural features and key ornaments, according to the AIA. The addition, clad in stucco, features a rooftop solar array and perforated metal screens wrapping the walkways and staircases.

28th street apartments

© Eric Staudenmaier

An elevated garden connects the new and old buildings at the 28th Street Apartments in Los Angeles.

The original building and addition house two nonprofit organizations: One offers neighborhood youth training and employment programs; the other provides 49 units of affordable housing for youth leaving foster care, the mentally ill, and the chronically homeless.

Support services are also offered on site, and residents have access to the roof garden, laundry and lounge.

The project was also one of 10 recipients of the AIA’s 2014 Housing Awards, which recognize “the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and a valuable natural resource.”

Creating Community Connection Award

This award recognizes projects that incorporate housing into other community amenities for revitalization or planned growth.

Kelly Cullen Community; San Francisco
Gelfand Partners Architects; Knapp Architects

San Francisco’s historic Central YMCA, built in 1909, is a nine-story Classical building located in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. This project transformed the space into supportive housing for the homeless and a health center for residents of supportive housing and the homeless.

The adaptive-use project created 174 micro-units of permanent housing and preserved the original sky-lit second-floor lobby, auditorium, full-size gymnasium, offices and meeting rooms.

Kelly Cullen

© Mark Luthringer

Historic wood, tile and marble finishes were preserved in the Kelly Cullen Community project.

A new radiant heating system, energy-efficient lighting and ventilation, and the use of healthy materials support sustainability and resident well-being, AIA said.

Community-Informed Design Award

This award honors design that supports physical communities as they rebuild social structures and relationships weakened by outmigration, disinvestment and the isolation of inner-city areas.

Kings Beach Housing Now; Kings Beach, CA
Domus Development; YHLA Architects

This project provides affordable housing for low-income workers and families who previously lived in dilapidated, substandard housing in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Consisting of nine buildings located on five scattered sites, Kings Beach Housing Now provides 77 LEED Silver certified apartments that reduce negative impacts on the environment, reuse infill land, and preserve Lake Tahoe’s beautiful open spaces.

Kings Beach Housing Now

© Tom Zikas Photography

This project in Kings Beach, CA, offers low-income workers and their families LEED Silver-certified affordable housing.

In addition, an advanced biofiltration system naturally filters 100 percent of onsite storm water, which prevents sediments and pollutants from negatively impacting the lake.

Housing Accessibility: Alan J. Rothman Award

This award recognizes projects that demonstrate excellence in improving housing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Sierra Bonita Housing; West Hollywood, CA
Patrick Tighe Architecture

The design challenge of this project—described as the first all-affordable, mixed-use development in West Hollywood and the first designed and completed according to the city’s new Green Building Ordinance—was to fit the desired 42 accessible units on a 13,000-square-foot site and within a 50-foot height limit.

Sierra Bonita Housing

© Art Gray Photography

The design used minimal exterior setbacks and reversed the typical unit layout, locating bedrooms along the interior building courtyard and living areas on the street side, to capitalize on views and natural light.

Passive solar strategies generate power for all of the building’s common areas, and a second system of rooftop solar panels provides hot water for the entire building.

The jury for the 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards consisted of Nancy Ludwig, FAIA, (Chair), ICON architecture inc.; David Barista, Building Design+Construction; Louise Braverman, FAIA, Louise Braverman Architect; Keith Fudge, HUD; Paul Joice, HUD; and Jean Rehkeamp Larson, AIA, Rehkamp Larson Architects Inc.

Visit  Durability + Design