Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, Brooks + Scarpa

This mixed-use project provides affordable housing in Santa Monica, Calif., for those who are homeless or mentally disabled. Equipped with 46 apartments that are less than 250 square feet each, the building is within walking distance to the city center, has transit access to community services, and includes a ground-floor art gallery and studio to foster interaction between residents, artists, and the public. Brooks + Scarpa provided residents with a healthy environment through formaldehyde-free MDF cabinetry, low-VOC paints, natural linoleum, and fluorescent lighting with low mercury content. By leveraging prevailing winds, operable windows, and ceiling fans, the building enhances thermal comfort and natural ventilation, and eliminates the need for air conditioning in the apartments. The windows and two courtyards bring in ample daylight.

The building is designed to be nearly 50 percent more efficient than a conventionally designed project thanks to features such as double-glazed low-E windows, concrete floors and walls that act as thermal heat sinks, and a highly efficient hydronic heating system. The installation of a 30-kilowatt PV system will make the project a net-zero-energy building. The facility retains all stormwater on site through a subsurface infiltration system to prevent runoff into the Santa Monica Bay.