Sunday, October 26, 2014

Star of Skid Row

This new apartment building would stand out in any neighborhood, and it stands out even more on Maple and 6th, the heart of Skid Row.  Michael Maltzan, its architect, has said,"The community that lives there should have a similar environment to anybody that could afford something more expensive." I like him for this.   It is designed to house 100 people identified by the County as being the “most vulnerable,” often requiring emergency medical care and having a history of chronic homelessness. The ground floor is occupied by the Department of Health Services Housing for Health division headquarters. It was developed by the Skid Row Housing Trust, This organization began by rehabilitating S.R.O (old single room occupancy) buildings, but later ran out of buildings to rehabilitate and has gone on to new development.  Rents are subsidized by the L.A. Housing Authority, and each resident pays 30% of their income, whatever it may be.

There are waiting lists for all the supportive housing units, and some have questioned whether it was worthwhile to spend 40 million dollars on just this one.  As a lover of architecture, I say that this building will add beauty to the neighborhood for years to come, while a strictly utilitarian building would not.  While I'm at it, I ought to find out how much it would cost to build a plainer structure with equal capacity.  There were a couple of cost-saving measures taken here, too.  The housing units were pre-fabricated in Idaho.  The lower level incorporated the existing structure, a brilliant idea that also saved on demolition and disposal.

Here's another view from Maple Street.

Here is a wonderful video of The Star construction.

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