28th Street Apartments
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Brian Lane (Principal)
Clifford Beers Housing, Inc. and Coalition for Responsible Community Development
The 28th St Apartments restores and adds to a distressed historic building (a former YMCA) in south Los Angeles. The project now houses two nonprofits who co-purchased the building: The neighborhood youth training and employment program is housed in 8,000sf of the historic activity spaces and 49 units of supportive housing (serving youth exiting foster care, the mentally ill and the chronically homeless) occupies the remaining space. Supportive services are offered on site and residents have access to a roof garden, laundry and lounge. A lightweight perforated screen wraps the north face of the addition facing the historic building highlighting the solidity of the original. Its pattern is abstracted from reliefs in the historic building beloved by the community. The service providers developed the program and relied on us to create a setting that supported informal social interaction to build community and accommodated the privacy and security needed for the two separate but synergistic uses to operate. We reached out to the community to gauge interest in the neighborhood programs, expectations for the restoration and identification of neighborhood needs through a series of noticed meetings and focus groups including the family of the building’s well known architect- Paul R Williams. Bringing the building back to life and respecting the historic legacy was key to community acceptance. Work required a collaborative team navigating current codes with city engineering, fire and disabled access officials. Twenty code modifications were negotiated to preserve the integrity of the original structure while linking old with new.
The building was a YMCA that had been built for the African American Community in 1926 was a focus of cultural life in the era of segregation. By 2007, when the building was purchased, it was virtually abandoned and missing much of its exterior ornament and compositional integrity. It is on a limited 17,214sf urban site of cultural significance. The context is a chronically underserved neighborhood with a demographic that has shifted from predominantly African American to Hispanic. The historic front entry of the structure forms a neighborhood porch where community kids gather and ice cream trucks pass while the new addition creates a less formal side entry to the housing units above. The existing historic building spawned an efficient urban strategy on a small vacant sliver of land on the back of the building to add square footage for new updated unit types while not triggering costly parking. The project demonstrates that it is possible to provide community amenity, and achieve good innovative architectural design compatible within the context of an historic building in a neighborhood of historic homes and streets. Building Area: 24,200sf existing, 15,250sf = 39,450sf total Allocation of Uses: Ground Floor community uses: ~8,000sf (Community Hall, Offices, Computer Center, Gym, Public bathrooms, Common Room & kitchen, reception, lobby and building services: mail, trash/recycle rm, 5 parking stalls. Unit Mix floors 2-5: 49 studio units ranging from 280sf to 330sf + community laundry Outdoor spaces: 1,000sf ground floor courtyard, 2,000sf roof deck
The LEED Gold certified structure utilized many sustainable strategies. Solar hot water panels are discretely place on the new building roof and PV’s shade a generate power on the south façade leaving the historic building free of attachments. The building is fully occupied by tenants who access many support services onsite. Additionally community spaces are fully scheduled with youth education programs, seminars and job assistance in addition to programming of the gymnasium for local residents and tenants. The result is a collection of spaces that create a cohesive whole and return an active building to the community.