Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA) recently completed MLK1101, a supportive housing project in South Los Angeles. The LEED Gold certified project addresses a critical need for housing in Los Angeles by providing an uplifting, socially-connected community for previously homeless individuals to live and thrive. MLK1101 provides 26-units of permanent, 100% affordable housing to formerly homeless veterans, chronically homeless individuals, and low-income households.
Prioritizing social equity, health, and well-being of residents over isolation, LOHA opted for an L-shaped typology that allows every apartment to receive sunlight and cross ventilation, reducing the need for heating, cooling, and artificial light, and allowing for the inclusion of an elevated green patio for residents to relax and socialize away from the noise of the street. MLK1101 Supportive Housing employs the latest strategies in environmentally responsible, forward-thinking green design to maximize space and benefit the entire community. The building features include high-efficiency heating and cooling, appliances and fixtures, solar water heating, electric vehicle charging and bike parking.
At the street level, LOHA's design capitalizes on a requirement for on-site parking by creating an elevated community garden and social hub for residents and neighbors, that sits atop the street level parking. In order to establish a street presence, the parking is tucked behind a storefront space and a widened staircase that connects the street to the community spaces one level up. This stoop is a gathering space and a public gesture, encouraging the types of resident and neighborhood interaction often missing in supportive housing. The goal of the two retail units at the street level is to generate income that will help subsidize the housing while providing workforce training to residents so that they can transition back into society.
The units are designed for individuals and families, ranging in size from one to three bedrooms each with their own bathroom, and all are equipped with kitchens and living spaces. Tenants are encouraged to use the shared amenities in the community room, which has shared kitchen and dining areas for cooking classes, potlucks, group therapy, and other planned / impromptu gatherings.
An outdoor garden with drought-tolerant plants and raised-bed edible gardens connects the community room to the living spaces, giving residents a place to relax and socialize. All the units for MLK1101 Supportive Housing are accessed through exterior walkways. While the unit layouts are efficiently identical on each floor, the walkways vary in width for a more dynamic, staggered elevation and to create more informal gathering spaces and opportunities for residents to socialize.
Photography: Paul Vu