koning eizenberg architecture, santa monica, calif.

Koning Eizenberg Architects faced the usual affordable-housing challenges: making the design look customized when it had to be generic to meet budget; standing up to building officials and contractors who ask why details must be done well; and overcoming the resistance of neighbors. Added to those issues was the need to create a support system for the special-needs tenants, which include the disabled, those living with HIV, seniors, and veterans, many of them in bad shape.

In response, the architects created calm, gentle buildings of stucco and wood that fall in with the rhythm of Spanish-courtyard and Craftsman-style homes in the neighborhood. Carefully placed windows provide cross-ventilation. Wood boards break up the monotony of institutional metal railings. And trellises welcome climbing vines.

A landscaped courtyard and low walls adjacent to the laundry room encourage "accidental sociability." Says Julie Eizenberg, "Old California buildings had great social spaces between buildings. You never felt like you had to go out and mingle, but felt you were welcome. We tried to make sure we had that sort of space." The judges admired the project's detail and dignity. "The inherent forms are integrated into the community," they said. "This project will age gracefully."

project architect: Brian Lane, Koning Eizenberg Architecture
developer: Hollywood Community Housing Corp., Hollywood, Calif.
general contractor: Westport Construction, Arcadia, Calif.
landscape architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture
project size: 450 square feet per studio; 550 square feet per one-bedroom unit
site size: 0.43 acre
construction cost: $163 per square foot
rental price: $148 per month for studios; $210 per month for one-bedroom units
units in project: 18
photographer: Lucy Gonzalez