Case Study: AMCAL’s Mission Apartments in San Diego Provide LEED Gold Workforce Housing

AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc.'s Mission Apartments, designed by Withee Malcolm Architects, is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the developer, city agencies and architectural team work together.

Developer: AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc.
Architect: Withee Malcolm Architects
Completion: 2012
Sustainability: LEED Gold
Size: 1.56 acres
No. of Units: 85 with three unit types—2BD-3BD ranging from 841-1,182 sq. ft.
Density: 55 du/ac
Building Type: 3-story affordable apartments, Type V construction over 1 level semi-subterranean, wood-frame parking

Watch a video of the grand opening here

By Nancy Egan, Contributing Writer

AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc.’s Mission Apartments, designed by Withee Malcolm Architects, is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the developer, city agencies and architectural team work together. As a smart growth, transit oriented, sustainable, affordable/workforce apartment community, the new development has exceeded expectations for entire team. Now it is the new residents who are taking advantage of this workforce living environment to be a part of the broader vision for San Diego. Residents can take advantage of existing mass transit facilities, literally next door. Built on a 1.5-acre redevelopment site, the community includes 85 two- and three-bedroom units designed for family living.

Mission Apartments has achieved LEED Gold certification. Located in the North Bay Redevelopment Area north of downtown San Diego and near the airport, Mission Apartments delivers quality on-site social services, community investment and redevelopment.

The designers played up the unlikely context for a residential development—surrounded by “planes, trains and automobiles”—to create a contemporary architecture that reinterprets the industrial architecture of the district including the historic Mission Brewery building, a 1913 icon. Responding to the specifics of site, climate and light, the apartments face a landscaped courtyard but also out toward the airport, which offers “front yard” views of take offs and landings.

The internal facades feature corridors with bright, primary colors framed by white planes of the building’s stucco walls. And 0n the Hancock Street façade, where the lobby is located slightly below grade to establish a sense of entry into the community, a modern and urban mix of materials including stucco, metal and Parklex panels provide a lively and welcoming face to the neighborhood.

The architectural design employed a cost-effective, wood podium with parking tucked beneath three stories of apartments. The cost savings accrued by the wood podium design with the one level of semi-subterranean, wood frame parking saved millions of dollars in construction costs and allowed the developer to meet the budget for affordable housing, which would not have been possible otherwise. The successful module of six, tandem parking spaces beneath three residential units was made possible by the San Diego building code.

Taking advantage of a change in grade between the street entrance at the first floor and the motor court required for the parking, the architects created a pedestrian bridge that spans the motor court and steps down into the landscaped “island” courtyard to assure a safe pathway to the tot lots/play areas, outdoor seating and barbecue area. Other amenities on site include a community room with offices, a kitchen, a computer room and bicycle storage.

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