KTGY Named Terner Prize Finalist for Rural Workforce Housing Project

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorPajaro, Calif.—KTGY Group Inc. has received accolades for the design of Nuevo Amanecer Apartments, an affordable, workforce housing community in Pajaro, Calif. The Irvine, Calif.-based architecture firm was selected as a finalist by the Center for Community Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. The 2009 I. Donald Terner Prize recognizes innovative affordable housing projects and their leadership teams.The acknowledgment is about “more than just what the building looks like, but [also about] what it does for the people there,” asserts David Senden, principal at KTGY Group Inc. The biennial prize is designed to inspire projects that best exemplify Don Terner’s—a leader in the affordable housing field—spirit and commitment to affordable housing.The six-building, 63-unit rural project, which is designed for residents earning 60 percent or less of the area median income, was developed and built by Gilroy, Calif.-based South County Community Builders, who temporarily relocated residents who were living at the site, which Senden says was a shantytown, while Nuevo Amanecer Apartments was built.“When we went to the site originally and saw the deplorable conditions that the people were living in, we noticed a couple of things that were cool about the spaces between the buildings,” Senden tells MHN. He says the space served as a community gathering spot and that KTGY “wanted to make sure that we maintained this sense of community, which led us to the way it’s laid out.” The six buildings surround the site’s courtyard, which includes benches for resident interaction, and a community room and picnic area at the ends.The project, which offers one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units, is targeted to resident and migrant farm workers, Senden says. Thus, much of the design takes its cues from the surrounding buildings, giving it an agrarian feel. Though the firm was initially concerned about how the project would fit into the context of its environment, Senden notes that it has become an icon for the area. “People know what it is and who lives there, and it has helped with the revitalization of the area,” he says.The project includes green features such as solar roof panels, made possible through grants and subsidies, low-VOC paints and carpets, certified lumber and Energy Star Appliances. Global Green served as the green building consultant on the project. The winner and five finalists, selected from 53 applications from over 21 states, were honored during the 2009 Housing Policy Forum at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.