studio e architects, san diego

The cobbled-together site of this affordable family-housing community presented Studio E Architects principal John Sheehan with a difficult task. “It was a patchwork of irregular shapes that met in an odd way,” he explains. “Our challenge was to make sense of it.”

He and project designer Kevin Nivinskus didn't try to force a sense of cohesion through architectural homogeneity. Instead, they emphasized the downtown San Diego project's eclectic nature by breaking it into several buildings. Varied color schemes and detailing give each one its own distinct design identity. An existing historic building was restored for use as a meeting and exhibition space. And a landscaped walkway winds all the way through the community, providing the connective tissue that holds the buildings and public spaces together.

“There's great pedestrian access,” said one judge. “It's very simple but looks classy. It feels good.”

principal in charge: John Sheehan, Studio E Architects
project designer: Kevin Nivinskus, Studio E Architects
developer: Barry Getzel, Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., San Diego
general contractor: Sun Country Builders, Vista, Calif.
landscape architects: Harry Mestyanek, ASLA, and Michael Vail, Ivy Landscape Architects, San Diego
project size: 615 square feet to 1,380 square feet per unit
site size: 0.82 acre
construction cost: $125 per square foot
rental price: $373 to $1,762 per unit per month
units in project: 74
photography: Brady Architectural Photography