WORKBOOK: A Beautiful Partnership

04_perspective01Recently, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell celebrated the mid-point completion of the Selma housing project, a new affordable/workforce service-enhanced residential community in Hollywood featuring 66 homes. The project is a collaborative effort between affordable housing developer Abode Communities and landowner Los Angeles Unified School District. And, it’s precisely this partnership that was applauded by the mayor. “We need strong partnerships like this one to better leverage our limited resources to ensure these units are affordable to Angelenos at all income levels,” he says.

South elevation

South elevation

Eight years ago when LAUSD was expanding they acquired land that impacted the local Hollywood community, and in turn they decided to partner with Abode Communities to compensate for a dearth of affordable housing. LAUSD agreed to a 66-year ground lease and, in return, 50 percent of the new housing will be made available to District employees in hopes of improving teacher retention.

Right in the heart of Hollywood, it was important to all the key players of the project that the community was informed of the plans through a local outreach effort. “From a developer/architecture standpoint we take into consideration how the developments work in the context of the community,” says Abode Communities’ President and CEO Robin Hughes. “Our initial design was well received with the business community, the elected officials and the community at large.”

“One of the things as an industry we have driven is design,” she adds. “Often times you’ll see an affordable housing development that is the best housing on the block.”

East elevation

East elevation

The modern aesthetic of this project, designed by Abode’s VP of Architecture Gio Aliano, draws from both current and past Hollywood influences. “There was an idea of creating lookouts towards the hills. The balconies are visible and anchor the building into the community as residential, while the landscape creates a softness to the design, as well as shade.”

At the corner of Selma and Cherokee, the three main materials of corrugated metal, plaster and concrete block modulate the facade to appear less heavy. “Heavy, darker materials are at the bottom and at the top you have the lighter colors and plaster,” says Aliano. “As you move upward, the windows are smaller and appear more residential.”

The project is on track to receive LEED Silver certification, reflecting Abode’s strong commitment to sustainability. “We make it our business that sustainable design is at the core of our practice, not only to comply with city codes but because it’s the right thing to do,” adds Aliano.

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