A team of three architecture students has won the Julius Shulman Emerging Talent Award for their design of a 114,000-square-foot mixed use development. The competition involved teams from each of the six Los Angeles County architecture schools and was part of the Los Angeles Business Council’s 47th Annual Architectural Awards, which were held June 22.
Franco Chen, Zachary Green and Hana Lemseffer, all 2017 architecture graduates, had just two weeks from the time they received the project brief to design a “residential building that features a mix of supportive housing, affordable-housing units and market-rate housing units that creatively integrates itself and engages with the surrounding neighborhood.” It also had to include community-serving spaces, education areas and gathering spaces.
Block Party, the student’s winning design consisted of seven rounded towers with rooftop gardens and transitory zones of programming. Spaces closer to the street on the ground floor were more open to the public, with spaces in the middle transitioning to semi-public space as it approached the private housing units.
In the planning stage, the group knew it did not want apartments with long corridors and rooms on each side. It wanted something more pleasant and communal but where residents could maintain a sense of individuality.
“We focused on movement throughout spaces,” Chen said. “We also wanted a design where you could express yourself. To accomplish that, each tower has a communal room, linking the housing units instead of long corridors. On the individual level, there are giant bay windows in the housing units, and through those you have a snapshot of someone’s life. One person might have plants or there might be a cat hanging out or a curtain.”
To help foster community, the team mixed apartment sizes on each floor and envisioned each tower’s rooftop as a communal space for residents and guests with the possibility for gardens.
This year’s jurors of the Shulman Competition were Mike Alvidrez, CEO of the Skid Row Housing Trust; Miguel Santana, CEO of Fairplex; and architects Julie Eizenberg (principal, Koning, Eizenberg Architecture), Thom Mayne (principal, Morphosis Architecture) and Roger Sherman (senior project director at Gensler).
“The students really did a phenomenal job,” Santana said. “They worked to come up with the best possible design to provide an integrated community of individuals who need permanent supportive housing but also [took into account] people from the neighborhood.”
Roger Sherman, senior project director Gensler, noted that the competition’s challenge was “not just about solving a problem of a shortage of housing but how we think about the future of Los Angeles… This is really an opportunity to rethink how we live in the 21st century.”
The Julius Shulman Competition is named after the pre-eminent photographer of classic mid-century Los Angeles architecture and is intended to recognize emerging talent from the next generation of architects.
Each student on the Cal Poly Pomona team was awarded a $2,000 scholarship.