Using the City’s Transit Zoning Code to promote transit–oriented development and community outreach sessions, the team interpreted and developed an understanding of the community needs. The catalyst of the design is the unique podium that was terraced to hide the parking, create retail opportunities, and offer a more natural exterior with character for the residents. These sites, in a declining but proud historic area of Santa Ana are adjacent to existing SFD’s and multi-story apartments, an elementary school and just blocks from the regional Amtrak station, were chosen by the City to create desperately needed affordable housing for families earning 30% to 50% of the area median income.
These two adjacent sites consist of 99, newly constructed two and three bedroom homes, and are anchored by a neighborhood-serving retail space, public art sculpture, childcare facility, Management/Leasing and Resident Services Building, all at the major street intersection within the community. The perimeter of the site is aligned with townhouses, which provide direct street access and orientation, obscure the secure car parking structure, and disguise the buildings bulk and belie its density. Grand staircases lead residents and visitors from the street up to courtyard-oriented townhouses, landscaped walkways, tot-lot, BBQ and sitting areas as well the Resident Building, which includes community kitchen, computer lab, multi-purpose rooms, outdoor living room, fireplace and common laundry facilities. Open retail and guest parking is provided to ensure visibility and ease of access. The architectural character is an interpretation of the Mission Revival Style, which evokes a heightened sense of urbanity and relationship with nature through the subtle use of smooth planer walls, recessed widows and delicate detailing. Its acceptance by a skeptical neighborhood was crucial to ensure the City’s long-term commitment to re-development in the area and upon completion and has become the centrepiece for the City’s overall Master Plan.