Well, here's a good-design twofer. Michael Maltzan Architecture is combining two of our favorite trends—thoughtful prefab construction and the increasing appetite for well-designed supportive housing in cities—in a project for downtown Los Angeles's Skid Row. The neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in the nation; Maltzan's Star Apartments, developed with the Skid Row Housing Trust, will offer 102 new studio apartments for the area's chronically homeless individuals when it opens this summer. Going prefab makes the building process faster and cheaper—and, in this case, snazzier! Over the course of this month, the units will be hoisted up on a crane and stacked into place in Maltzan's microcosm of an urban skyline.
The $20.5 million, 95,000-square-foot project adds four terraced floors of studios to the roof of a former shopping center. The architects wanted to preserve the existing building, so they reinforced the ground level and created an elevated superstructure to support the new construction on top. On the second floor, where the shopping center's parking deck used to be, a 15,000-square-foot community center will include an exercise room, a running track, edible gardens, an art studio, and a computer lab. "The concept allows for maximum productivity in terms of time and materials," Maltzan said in a statement, "but the real goal is to provide the safety, security and support which end life on the streets." The project includes a social services component: a health clinic run by the county will occupy the ground floor, along with storefront retail.
Back in October, the Star Apartments garnered a NEXT LA Design Award from the Los Angeles chapter of the AIA.
All images courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture