The Park – Climate Action

Located in Santa Monica, CA, this LEED Platinum, transit adjacent development includes a one acre rooftop park for residents and street level public plazas that follow the meandering storefront to encourage lingering. Above, cross grain garden courtyards break the 249 housing units into four buildings to optimize daylight, views, and ocean breezes and create a neighborly and green connection to the street.


The way the building meets the ground is quite sculptural and activates the pedestrian scale in a unique way. The facade that folds in-and-out is an imaginative strategy for achieving a dynamic reading of a housing block, successfully mediating between the internal aggregation of units and the exterior expression. This is a breath of fresh air when you look at the formula of housing in LA; they worked with the City of Santa Monica to rewrite the code–a herculean task.

Noteworthy performance features include:

1. LEED Platinum

2. 73% EUI reduction and 20% of its energy use is provided with on-sight renewables.

3. The rooftop acts as green space with a significant number of native and edible plants.

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
By focusing on minimal material elements, we used two large trusses to form the living room pavilion, which is flanked by two private zones. The fleece backed TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane that acts as a “cool roof.” The public pavilion is open to views towards the ocean as well as breezes from the reservoir and mountains. The trusses are cusotmized to create multiple inerior ceiling forms and were pre-fabricated off-site.
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
The location of this residence is highly walkable, most errands can be done on foot. 
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
The landscape strategy connects the two houses via a series of natural landscapes and paths. Native plantings fill the site and are excellent pollinator attractors. Trees that were existing on the site remain.
Measure 4: Design for Water
A cistern was installed to collect and save rainwater for reuse on site. 
Measure 5: Design for Economy
Two things impact the economics of design. First, the structure was designed with pre-fabricated elements to reduce labor. Second the house is designed with an open plan and flexible spaces that can be used in a variety of ways throughout the day. The living/kitchen zone opens directly to the outdoors and reduces reliance on forced heating and cooling.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
The roof is covered in TPO, a cool roof material, solar panels are installed for renewable energy storage, skylights, operable windows and site strategies encourage natural light and ventilation, and a cistern was installed to retail rain water.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
Siting and alignment of the house was evaluated using sun studies to maximize cooling and natural light availability. The pool, which is notched into the site, also provides natural cooling as breezes move across the water. There are operable windows in every room, materials and built-ins were selected for their low toxicity qualities.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
The entire roof system is covered with fleece-backed TPO, which is a cool roof material and reduces the amount of energy required to maintain comfort by decreasing heat flow through the building envelope. This also improves the roof’s longevity. Structural materials were limited to a palette of steel prefabricated trusses, wood, and concrete. 
Measure 9: Design for Change
House Stepping Down a Hill is designed for adaptability and longevity. There are minimal stairs and bedrooms can be easily accessed as the owners age. The design is flexible and adaptable as families evolve and grow or contract. Because the material and structural palette is minimal, maintenance costs should be reduced over the house’s life span. 
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
There was not a post occupancy evaluation for this project but in general the owners have expressed their appreciation for the design reflecting their needs as a family. We continue to have a positive relationship with the client, including recently completing the landscape design for them. The design of this particular house is new for the office — we could employ more experimental structural elements that the office wanted to explore for some time. We were lucky to have a client who supported exploring these building and design techniques with us.
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