Michael J. Hanley, president of the Hanley Foundation and creator of the Hanley Award for Community Service in Sustainability, has long admired the work of the Skid Row Housing Trust; particularly the Star Apartments, hailed by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions in 2015. “The iconic Star, while providing housing to the formerly homeless, is an extraordinary Michael Maltzan-designed structure that has become the pride of the neighborhood – all while achieving LEED Platinum Certification, with performance of 28.8% beyond Title 24 2008 standards,” Michael Hanley said in a release announcing the Hanley Award.
Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The new Star Apartments for the Skid Row Housing Trust transforms an existing one-story commercial building in downtown Los Angeles into a mixed-used complex with 102 apartments for formerly homeless individuals. Located at 6th Street and Maple Avenue along the border of Skid Row, the project sets a new model for urbanism and increased density by remodeling an existing 1-story building and adding new community spaces and residential levels above.
The six-story, 95,000-square-foot building expands upon the Skid Row Housing Trust’s model of providing permanent supportive housing within the downtown core by incorporating a new type of shared public space within the building. The building is organized around three principal spatial zones stacked one upon the other: a retail zone at street level; a second level for community programs; and four terraced floors of residences above.
The building design facilitates a recovery process for formerly homeless residents based on positive re-socialization, healthy interpersonal relations, and wellness. The welcoming first floor includes the new headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Housing for Health Division and a medical clinic with five exam rooms operated by the DHS. Wrap-around storefront glazing brings in natural light to the ground floor spaces. The second floor’s Health and Wellness Center features numerous common spaces such as a community kitchen, meeting room, art room, and library, as well as recreational spaces such as an exercise room, running/walking track, and a pickle ball court. Residents are able to enjoy generous outdoor patio spaces and approximately 2,000 square feet of community edible gardens. Individual studio apartments on the building's four upper levels each include an eat-in kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
Not only is the integration of retail, social services, community recreational facilities and residential units a unique building program, but the project utilizes an innovative new construction methodology. Faced with a limited budget and tight schedule the design team determined that prefabricated modules lifted into place over the existing podium would ensure a higher quality of construction, meet tighter construction tolerances, and dramatically accelerate construction time, producing a parallel reduction in cost. Star Apartments will be the first mixed-use, multi-unit residential project for formerly homeless individuals employing this construction method in Los Angeles. Additionally, through this innovative approach the project is on target to be certified Gold as a LEED for Homes Pilot Project, with factory fabrication ensuring compliance with energy savings.