AIDS Housing Provides Infill Design Lesson

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One of the newest categories of low-income people who need specialized housing are those afflicted with AIDS.

May 01, 1999

One of the newest categories of low-income people who need specialized housing are those afflicted with AIDS. A Los Angeles project pays particular attention to the needs of people with this disease, but the design also provides lessons on how to produce affordable housing that fits in with other houses in the neighborhood.

Apartments for people living with AIDS were built to blend in with two-story Craftsman bungalows at the front of the site in Los Angeles, Calif.

One of the key considerations in the design for people living with AIDS is to create what architect Wade Killefer calls an ambience of hope. At Palm View in Los Angeles, Killefer achieves this goal by providing generous light in each of the 29 one-bedroom units of 600 square feet and 11 two-bedroom apartments of 800 square feet. The partner in Killefer Flammang Purtill Architects of Santa Monica, Calif., enhances the upbeat ambience by including private decks for each unit, a large central courtyard and a variety of small outdoor spaces. In addition to parking for 48 cars, there is a community center, billiard room and facilities for health screening and counseling services.

Craftsman architectural elements repeat throughout the complex to blend in with the two bungalows, which had been on the site for seventy years. Heavy wood brackets support gabled roofs for what Killefer calls a pleasant residential appearance. Thick wood trim surrounds windows and doors. Four timbers comprise the columns supporting balconies and walkways. Railings are also finished in wood. Trellises using the same architectural language help to define semi-public spaces in courtyards and at the entrance to the complex. These will eventually be covered with plantings for shade and beauty.

Killefer says the massing of the building pays respect to the neighbors, the typography and the residents. Providing the two-story mass are renovated bungalows, which were dismantled and stored during construction of subterranean parking. Now one bungalow is the community center and the other houses the manager’s office and apartment. The new construction steps up to three and four stories as the building moves back from the street. The positioning of the taller parts of the building on a steep hill and the main courtyard opening to the lower side provides city views from the walkways and balconies.

The West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. owns and manages Palm View. The project was funded by The Actors Fund of America, City of West Hollywood, Community Development Commission of Los Angeles County and Citibank F.S.B. The Actors Fund is a non-profit organization, which provides for the welfare of needy entertainment professionals.

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