MLK1101 Supportive Housing

Architect: Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

Owner:  Holos Communities (formerly Clifford Beers Housing)

Location: Los Angeles

Category:  Excellence in Affordable Housing

Project site:  Not Previously developed

Building program type: Residential - Multifamily, 5 or more units

Just a short jaunt from Los Angeles’ famed Coliseum and the University of Southern California, the LEED Gold-certified MLK1101 Supportive Housing shapes an environment that nurtures health and community. Accommodating families and individuals through 26 one- to three-bedroom units, the project has transformed a vacant lot and improved an aesthetically impoverished block.

The project is a part of a wider strategic plan by the city to address homelessness, an effort championed by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which aims to tackle poverty by focusing on housing as a primary solution. MLK1101 Supportive Housing supports the city’s goals by offering a safe and healthy community with services tailored to residents’ individual needs.

The new building’s California contemporary style complements the surrounding neighborhood and is filled with open and functional spaces for residents to enjoy. The design reflects the local context, and its careful massing does not overwhelm the surroundings and allows for a generous mix of indoor and outdoor community spaces. To prioritize social equity and the well-being of residents, the team opted for an L-shaped typology that offers every unit daylight and cross-ventilation, which eases the burden of providing heating, cooling, and artificial light.

“This project takes standard building methods and makes a unique environment and building form.” - Jury comment

Sitting along the bustling and wide Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the building’s required on-site parking is at street level with an elevated community garden and social hub above it. To bolster its street presence, the team tucked the parking behind a storefront space and wide staircase that connects to the community spaces on the second level. The resulting stoop is both a gathering space and a public gesture that encourages resident and neighborhood interactions not often found in supportive housing projects. Additionally, two retail units on the street level generate income that helps subsidize the housing costs while also providing workforce training for residents.

“It makes the most of a tight site and the four-story configuration while responding to the site. Its landscape and community outdoor space also create a neighborhood within.” - Jury comment

Each of the units includes its own bathroom, kitchen, and living spaces. Residents are encouraged to access amenities in the community room, which has a shared kitchen that hosts cooking classes, potlucks, and group therapy sessions. The outdoor garden, which is filled with drought-tolerant plants and raised beds designed for edible gardens, connects to the community room and living spaces, encouraging residents to socialize and relax.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 17003 sq. ft.

Project team

Principal-in-Charge: Lorcan O’Herlihy

Project Director: Brian Adolph, Nick Hopson

Project Lead: Dana Lydon, Santiago Tolosa

Project Team: Chris Gassaway, Ghazal Khezri

Project attributes: 34,000 SF with 4,000 SF Park Space


Catherine Baker, FAIA, Chair, Nowhere Collaborative, Chicago

John DeForest, AIA, DeForest Architects, Seattle

Brian Lane, FAIA, Koning Eizenberg, Santa Monica, Calif.

Amit Price Patel, AIA, DIALOG, Vancouver, British Columbia

Michael D. Robinson, AIA, Robi4 Architecture & Planning, San Diego

Image credits


Here And Now Agency


Iwan Baan


Here and Now Agency


Here and Now Agency


Here and Now Agency