Withee Malcolm Architects Design two Affordable Housing Projects in California

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorLos Angeles, Anaheim, Calif.–The Villas del Lago Apartments (pictured right half of image box) in the Westlake/MacArthur Park district of Los Angeles, and Elm Street Commons (left half of image box ) in Anaheim, Calif.’s Colony Historic District, both affordable housing projects opened recently with 100 percent occupancy. AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc. was the developer for Villas del Lago, and a team of Squier Properties, ADI Inc. and the City of Anaheim developed Elm Street Commons.The two developments represent substantial steps forward in providing well-designed affordable homes with community amenities. “We have a long commitment to improving quality of design in affordable and workforce housing,” Dan Withee, principal of Withee Malcom, the architect on the projects, tells MHN. “Even when budgets are restrictive, we treat these projects with the same respect as we do any residential building—we understand that they are going to be someone’s home.”At Elm Street Commons, the design updates the vocabulary of the traditional Mission-style that references Anaheim’s early architectural beginnings, and creates a sense of warmth and tradition. The 52-unit apartment development provides housing for low and very low-income residents in a neighborhood that is close to major transportation, parks, schools, hospital, grocery store, public library, Anaheim’s MUZEO museum, and other retail outlets.Villas del Lago, a 74-unit affordable development, replaces dilapidated housing on the site with 16 one-bedroom units, 35 two-bedroom units and 23 three-bedroom units. The building design reflects the stylized modern architecture of the nearby Miracle Mile with its distinctive art deco detailing and warm palette. To help lower living costs for residents, Villas del Lago features energy efficient appliances and design, as well as a green interior courtyard. The development also exceeds California’s Energy Efficient Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings by 15 percent.“With both projects, we tried to maximize density on very tight infill sights,” adds Withee. “The challenge with Elm Street Commons was to design it in a way that it sits pleasingly in its surroundings. We did not want it to appear massive because most of the projects around it have fewer floors. Villas del Lago is built up against the hill on a pretty tough site so designing it was pretty [challenging]. Our aim was to make all the units airy, spacious and with a lot of light,” says Withee.