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2016 MCHAP

La Brea Affordable Housing for Formerly Homeless LGBT Youth

Patrick Tighe Architecture with John V. Mutlow Architect

West Hollywood, CA, USA

September 2014


Patrick Tighe / Patrick Tighe Architecture John V Mutlow


Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture (Landscape Architect)


West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation


Art Gray Photography


The building contains 32 residential units organized around a central courtyard. Each unit has a full kitchen, bathroom. Several of the units are fully accessible and the remaining units are fully adaptable as needed. Commercial / Retail space is located along La Brea Avenue at the ground level. The living units are oriented along the north south axis and each unit receives a large amount of natural daylight. An inner courtyard provides a garden for residents and makes it possible for each unit to receive light from both the east and the west. This abundance of natural light minimizes energy requirements through reduced artificial lighting requirements and consequently also minimizes heat gain normally associated with artificial lighting.. Additional common outdoor space is available for the residents in the courtyard garden at the second level and at the fifth floor roof deck garden. The units are linked by exterior, open-air corridors running adjacent to the interior bamboo garden (bamboo forest) courtyard. Common areas include a community room and common laundry room, both of which are located off of the courtyard on the second level. Sustainable features are integral to the design. Passive solar design strategies are used and include: a north south orientation for the courtyard; locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; designing windows to maximize daylight and designing units to maximize natural ventilation. A 20 watt kw photovoltaic panel system is integrated into the façade and roof of the building that will supply most of the peak load electricity demand. A hydronic solar system is located on the roof and provides free hot water for the residents. Multiple facets of green building are achieved such as construction and waste management, storm water diversion, construction air quality, sustainable materials and finishes, water conservation, and energy efficiency.


The LaBrea affordable housing project is a mixed-use affordable housing project for formerly homeless LGBT youth and people living with disabilities (HIV AIDS). The 50,000 sq ft building is located one block north of Santa Monica Boulevard in the City of West Hollywood. The project addresses a severe housing shortage for tenants living with disabilities. The mixed-use program brings higher density into the urban core of the city. Locating the project within the central urban fabric of the community ensures that residents have direct access to local businesses and services. Affordable housing is a major concern in the Los Angeles area and in particular in West Hollywood, California. The units are targeted to extremely low and very-low-income tenants with special needs, people living with disabilities (HIV AIDS) and formerly homeless LGBT youth. The building demonstrates one of the city’s core values of environmental responsibility and its commitment to green building. The highly sustainable building exceeds the requirements of the city’s Green Building Ordinance. The building maximizes density while allowing for ample outdoor space. 32 apartments are arranged around a shared exterior courtyard. Parking is provided at grade and commercial space is present along La Brea Avenue. The Southwest corner is a five-story spiral garden, a beacon of activity that houses the circulation and other shared amenities for the residents.


The building houses an array of deserving, appreciative people that take great pride in their new building. The formerly homeless have adjusted to having a roof over their heads and their lives are now significantly improved. Having a home allows the residents the opportunity to care for themselves in ways not possible while on the street. Other residents living with disabilities find solace knowing that they have a comfortable, clean safe environment in which to live. The building has served as a catalyst for many new developments on the East side of the city. The higher density along the boulevard was adopted as part of the City’s zoning and other developments of similar scale have followed suit. The residential project is inextricably connected to its urban context. The residents have direct access to public transportation and all services. The highly sustainable building serves as a teaching tool for sustainability. Solar photovoltaics provide the power for all the common spaces of the building and the resident’s benefit directly by receiving free hot water. Multiple outdoor spaces are available for common use and a community garden on site allows direct access to fruits and vegetables. The building has been very well received by its inhabitants, the city and others. The recognition received has raised awareness for the dire need for affordable housing in the city and for the formerly homeless LGBT youth population in particular. This is a population that has grown in recent years and is heavily concentrated in Hollywood. It was a great privilege to design a building that has had a direct impact on improving the lives of some of the residents. The building is now an integral part of the urban fabric of the city.

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