In a blighted area of Sacramento, California, a long-derelict brownfield site next to a light-rail station has been transformed into an affordable housing development for families with plenty of green features, creating a new gateway into downtown.
Designed by David Baker + Partners Architects, the 63 units of affordable housing at La Valentina Station enhance security in the area by putting eyes on the street, with private balconies, an outdoor lobby and stair tower, and open-air bridges.
The street level facing the light-rail station is activated by new commercial space and a cafe. An open-air stair and bridge emphasizes walk-ability and social interaction. The building provides secure indoor and outdoor bicycle parking.
At ground level, a long span of glass, masked with a "bar-code" mural spelling the building name, illuminates the night sidewalk with a mellow glow while ensuring privacy for the community room inside.
The larger development includes this project-a high-density, 76 unit/acre property with a mix of housing types-located alongside a row of zero-net-energy townhomes by YHLA Architects. Community space and services for both projects are provided on this site.
A series of complementary simple and readily available green strategies were employed to reduce the negative impacts of the building on the site, while enhancing measures that improve quality of life for residents.
Site constraints placed most units facing east and west, and heat gain was minimized by facing windows north and south around balconies, minimizing west-facing glazing, and allowing the cladding material to double as a sun shade. A 34 kW rooftop PV array provides a portion of common-area electricity. The project also features low-impact materials, including low-VOC interiors, permeable paving, and drought-tolerant landscaping.
Low-energy and low-maintenance technologies such as LED fixtures in the corridors and high-reflectance roofing contributed to the building exceeding Title 24 by 10%.
Photos: Bruce Damonte