Energy-Efficient Housing for Formerly Homeless Opens in Santa Monica

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorSanta Monica, Calif.—Pugh + Scarpa Architects recently completed a new 46-unit permanent housing facility with rehabilitation and support services for formerly homeless and mentally disabled populations for clients Step Up on Second and A Community of Friends.An urban infill project, Step Up on Fifth also includes ground-level retail space and subterranean…

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorSanta Monica, Calif.—Pugh + Scarpa Architects recently completed a new 46-unit permanent housing facility with rehabilitation and support services for formerly homeless and mentally disabled populations for clients Step Up on Second and A Community of Friends.An urban infill project, Step Up on Fifth also includes ground-level retail space and subterranean parking.The $18 million community features an exterior that incorporates colored water jet anodized aluminum panels that not only provides a measure of privacy to residents but also filters some of the sunlight.“What we wanted to do when we designed it was give the 46 tenants some measure of dignity and something that says, ‘this is my home,’” says Angela Brooks, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Pugh + Scarpa.“I don’t think what architects should do is mimic the buildings directly adjacent,” Brooks asserts, noting that the development is situated next to several older buildings built in the early 1900s. “We build for our time and use materials available now. When we design we’re working with the environment as well, so for the planning of the project, we looked at the orientation.”Step Up on Fifth’s energy-efficient measures exceed the state-mandated Title 24 energy measures by more than 30 percent. Much of the planning and design employs passive solar strategies, including locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; shaping the building to induce buoyancy for natural ventilation; designing windows to maximize daylighting; shading south-facing windows and minimizing west-facing glazing; designing windows to maximize natural ventilation; shaping and planning the interior to enhance daylight and natural air flow distribution. These strategies make this building 50 percent more efficient than a conventionally designed structure. “The big screen, which is on the southeast façade, is a four-story perforated metal screen that helps shade the building and courtyard. It helps with the energy rating, since the building doesn’t get blasted by the sun,” Brooks tells MHN.In addition, the project achieved more than a 75 percent recycling rate, with materials conservation and recycling efforts employed throughout construction. All waste was hauled to a transfer station for recycling, while specified materials included carpet with a high recycled-content, insulation from recycled newspapers and all-natural linoleum flooring.The development also includes compact fluorescent lighting, double-pane windows and low-flow fixtures, as well as a hydronic heating system, which uses only one boiler and which allows the community to forego the use of natural gas and electricity to heat the units, notes Brooks.The units, all of which are SROS, range from 220 to 300 sq. ft. and feature Murphy beds to further maximize space. Each of the 46 residences—two of which are designed as manager units—has a full bathroom, microwave, sink and cabinet space, as well as full closets. Two community rooms feature full kitchens for resident use and the development features two on-site offices for case mangers, as well as two common laundry facilities.Step Up on Fifth is located four blocks from Step Up on Second, which offers 34 apartments to Step Up members, as well as a commercial kitchen and catering facility, where members and residents of both projects can participate in classes and job training.

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