April 6, 2017
West Hollywood Approves Contemporary 11-Unit Courtyard Apartment Building
R&A Architecture + Design’s Residential ‘Village’ Design Maintains Scale of Neighborhood
LOS ANGELES: The West Hollywood Planning Commission approved an 11-unit contemporary apartment building proposed by R&A Architecture + Design on the northeast corner of Martel Avenue and Romaine Street. The Culver City-based architects organized the residential complex as a village of two- to three-story townhouses around a semi-private courtyard, rather than as a single, monolithic apartment building with internalized corridors, to benefit the residents and neighborhood. The project is developed by Martel Heights, LLC, with construction targeted to begin in spring 2018. The young design firm is working on several other West Hollywood projects, currently under construction.
Using the locally common but almost forgotten typology, the two- and three-bedroom units are arranged around a shared courtyard opening into the street along dual pathways leading from the street to enhance a sense of community. The apartments are designed at different heights with varied façades of stucco, glass, and wood so the individuality and privacy of each unit is maintained. “This segmented massing respects the scale of nearby homes,” says Christian Robert, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal at R&A Architecture + Design. “As architects, we thoughtfully pay attention to the context and work to maintain the community spirit.”
Further minimizing the overall scale of the project, the unit sizes shift within the residential complex to complement and enhance the residential urban scale. Large windows—some forming corner glass boxes—and shifting volumes add the “village” feeling of the site. These design choices result in a smaller-scale presence, rather than overwhelming the surrounding homes with a large, undifferentiated volume.
In addition to enhancing the neighborhood, the building incorporates many sustainable initiatives. “Operating within the parameters of a courtyard housing project, this design employs several passive and active strategies to mitigate its environmental impact,” notes Benjamin Anderson, Assoc. AIA, Principal at R&A Architecture + Design.
The apartments are naturally cross-ventilated through the central courtyard, while internal staircases allow for stack effect ventilation, with adjacent doors fitted with louvers and screens to further circulate air. All units will be finished with concrete floors to provide thermal mass, minimizing cost and energy necessary for heating and cooling. Energy-efficient glazing, passive solar design concepts, and clerestory windows help minimize heat gain and energy consumption.
Each unit averages 1,585 square feet and is designed with a connection to exterior landscaped spaces, including roof decks and patios, to enhance the quality of life for residents. Drought-tolerant, native plantings in the outdoor spaces, designed by Yael Lir Landscape Architects of South Pasadena, will also reduce the project’s environmental impact year-round.
The apartments are set back from the street and adjacent properties, and a landscaped buffer will screen them from their immediate neighbors. Paved walkways and driveways are kept to a minimum so storm water is mostly absorbed on site. An underground garage provides 27 parking spaces for residents and visitors.
R&A Architecture + Design is a young, energetic architecture and design firm focused on creative solutions in multiple scales and typologies, including commercial, hospitality, residential, and mixed-use. With two offices—Culver City, CA, and Portland, OR—R&A transforms local communities through creative solutions. The firm embraces intensive research to deliver fresh, new thinking at every point of the design process. It values how curiosity feeds creativity, and how creative approaches yield innovative answers. Founded in 2012 by two award-winning Principals, Christian Robert, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, and Benjamin Anderson, Assoc. AIA, and joined by Principal Shawn Gehle in 2017, R&A globally leverages a broad portfolio of experience in transformative architecture and interiors projects.