2017 AIA Awards – Architecture
Eschewing the mold of traditional shelter models by emphasizing group and social spaces, this 42,500-square-foot housing project provides 52 units, support services, and rehab for formerly homeless disabled veterans and individuals in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park section.
The first Skid Row Housing Trust project to be built outside of downtown L.A., The Six was based on the principals of housing first, harm reduction, and design equity, a model that can be applied to neighborhoods throughout the region. Playing on the military term “I’ve got your six” and the deep bond soldiers often forge for its name, the new facility includes space for on-site health and wellness programs for residents as well as courtyards and common areas offer calming sanctuary.
The vital project provides high-quality sustainable housing to a population that would otherwise be forced to leave the community due to the very high costs of living. The Six’s proximity to a number of service-industry employers—many within walking distance—benefits both the residents and the environment.
Certified LEED Platinum, the project incorporates energy-efficiency measures that exceed standard practice, especially in conventional affordable housing. Driven to enhance the quality of life of The Six residents in the Southern California climate, each unit features 10-foot-high ceilings, abundant cross ventilation, and numerous large windows providing ample natural light.
One of the biggest challenges the design team faced was the significant swing in temperatures when day turns to night. To combat this, concrete floors and walls were placed strategically to function as thermal heat sinks. Dual glazing with low-E film in thermally broken vinyl frames also helps control heat loss and gain.
In working with an organization that embraces a philosophy that homes promote success, the architects crafted a welcoming environment that supports everyone’s right to housing and gives residents a chance to reclaim their connection with the community.