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LOHA advances eye-catching affordable housing schemes in Los Angeles

Architecture West
LOHA advances eye-catching affordable housing schemes in Los Angeles (Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)
LOHA advances eye-catching affordable housing schemes in Los Angeles (Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

As Los Angeles gears up to tackle its homelessness crisis, L.A.-based Lorcan O’ Herlihy Architects (LOHA) is busy at work on a collection of novel, forthcoming affordable housing projects that aim to build upon the firm’s many previous experiments in dense urban housing. 

A recently-unveiled plan for the Isla de Los Angeles project with non-profit housing developer Clifford Beers Housing is perhaps the most daring of the new projects. The development will bring 54 studio apartments to a paved triangular site in the city’s Harbor Gateway community in a stepped and articulated structure made up of stacked and repurposed shipping containers. 

The Isla de Los Angeles project will deploy repurposed shipping containers to repopulate a strip of highway-adjacent land. (Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

The rapid-rehousing development is being designed to house a series of shared spaces as well as parking along the ground level. The five-story project will be located beside the intersection of the 110  and 105 freeways and its site organization reflects this troublesome locale—the edges of the site will be populated by planted areas to block out freeway pollution while the building itself is laid out to face away from the highways in order to take advantage of the natural sunlight and breezes. Much of the complex is topped by shade panels as well. 

Amenity spaces for the project will include: edible gardens, space for a farmer’s market, a small lab, and areas dedicated to cottage-scaled food production, health and fitness activities, and job training services. 

Units in the 18,000-square-foot structure will be earmarked for residents who make less than or equal to 40 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The project is to be built on excess city-owned land using funding from Proposition HHH, a recent initiative aimed at building 10,000 supportive housing units in Los Angeles over the next decade.

The eye-catching development stacks apartments above a central courtyard.(Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

The firm is also pushing forward on a proposal announced late last year that would add 78 units of affordable housing, various community spaces, as well as arts and educational programming to a city-owned site located in the Westlake neighborhood west of Downtown Los Angeles. The project will sit adjacent to the historic Westlake Theatre and is expected to reinvigorate the institution while ensuring its revival is suited to benefit existing neighborhood residents.

Renderings for the seven-story project depict three linear and interconnected apartment blocks spanning over a central courtyard. The canted apartment slabs sit on a perimeter base that is open on one side to face the street and heroically span the courtyard above these otherwise porous ground floor areas in a way similiar to an approach pursued by Michael Maltzan Architecture’s One Santa Fe complex.

The firm’s proposed project for L.A.’s Westlake area would bring 78 afforable units to the working class neighborhood. (Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

Cesar Chavez Foundation is the lead developer for the project, with Meta Housing Corporation as a co-developer. The Youth Policy Institute will act as a service provider for the project in partnership with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

A timeline has not been released for either of these developments. 

LOHA’s MLK1101 project consists of an L-shaped apartment block that wraps a ground =floor retail space and an elevaed plaza. (Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

LOHA is further along, however, on the MLK1101 supportive housing complex, a 26-unit development geared toward military veterans who have formerly experienced homelessness that is currently under construction. The four-story L-shaped apartment complex wraps a single-story storefront space that is topped with a rooftop terrace and community room. The storefront is being developed as a retail opportunity for the project and is flanked by a broad stair that leads to the terrace level, where picnic tables, plants, and benches will populate the 4,000-square-foot gathering space. Renderings for the 34,000-square-foot project depict a white perforated metal panel-clad structure with a pedimented retail space wrapped with storefront windows. Work on the project is well underway and is expected to be complete later this year.

These developments join LOHA’s growing slate of innovative residential projects in Los Angeles, including several market-rate developments along Pico Boulevard, a 30-unit apartment complex in West Hollywood, and a quintuplet of small-lot houses at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. 

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