A Home by the Highway

Los Angeles
Project: New Carver Apartments
Architects: Michael Maltzan Architecture
Date: 2009

When Michael Maltzan set about imagining this building next to the Santa Monica Freeway for formerly homeless residents, there were, he says, “a lot of considerations for the design, as it is on an odd-shaped site with the highway being the defining factor.” Minimizing noise and pollution was key—and achieved in part through the placement of the windows. “But also I feel it is important for affordable housing to declare itself in the community, both for the neighborhood and for the residents who take pride in living in a space that has been thought out for their needs.” The 97-unit facility includes kitchens, gardens, and medical services. Maltzan, who’s built his share of private homes, has a real track record with affordable design, beginning with his first solo commission: an arts center for kids in L.A.’s Skid Row. His next affordable-housing project, the Star Apartments, is set to begin construction soon.

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Photo: Iwan Baan

“I work with 3-D models, so I knew about the impact of the spiral atrium from above,” says Maltzan. “What surprised me was the way the sky and the light affected the interior space. That is something you can’t factor into a model.” Photo: Iwan Baan

“Yellow is the color of all the social spaces in the building.” Since “it reacts with the white in such an optimistic way, we leaked it out onto sections of the exterior.” Photo: Iwan Baan

A Home by the Highway