gmp architects, santa monica, calif.

What do you do with a site that is superbly located down the road from the J. Paul Getty Museum, but is also steeply raked and adjacent to one of the nation's busiest freeways? If you're architect Monika Moses, you turn the liabilities into assets.

With the Museum Heights Condominiums, says Moses, "we divided the complex in two" and "softened the hillside" by stepping the two buildings up the site with a densely planted green corridor in between. Parking beneath the upper building raises it even higher, opening up views of the ocean and allowing residents to look over--not into--the busy freeway just outside.

To de-emphasize persistent highway noise, Moses enlisted the help of acoustical engineers and created a sophisticated system of double-glazed windows. "And we enclosed the balconies in a solarium, so that if you want to sit 'outside,' you can, but there is still another barrier between you and the freeway."

Judges applauded Moses' innovative plan, taking delight in her clever use of the solariums. Moses herself is most proud of the way she was able to incorporate "futuristic elements" like aluminum panels and black concrete block, creating what she calls "a high-density housing project with attitude."

project architect: Monika Moses, GMP Architects
land planner: Monika Moses, GMP Architects
developer: Steve Erdman, Museum Heights, Culver City, Calif.
general contractor: Steve Erdman, CH Construction Co., Culver City
landscape Architect: John Hanna, John Hanna & Associates, Solana Beach, Calif.
interior designer: Jennifer Scott, J. Scott Design, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
project size: 1,014 to 2,209 square feet per unit
site size: 2.4 acres
construction cost: $90 per square foot
sales price: $195,000 to $400,000 per unit
units in project: 66
photographer: Tom Bonner Photography