The Park – Climate Action

The Park KoningEizenberg Eric Staudenmaier 03b

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
The project achieved LEED Platinum using both passive and active environmental strategies, many of which contribute to the project’s distinctive expression. Less visible strategies include a water conservation system that uses municipal recycled water systems for both toilet flushing and irrigation.
The design of the building envelope itself was also an opportunity to enhance street connectivity and unit comfort. The result is a soft edge achieved with modulation strategies that capture views, add shade, and offer varying degrees of privacy. North facing elevations are faceted to provide apartments with long views; in courtyards they look out to the street and on Broadway they extend to the Ocean. On south elevations, horizontal awnings and exterior moveable louvers shade glass and filter views between units. Use of a steel prefabricated structural system conXtech reduced construction time by 3 months and was instrumental in cost-effectively achieving the form as well as facilitating flexible unit planning.
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
Social Equity: The developer partnered with a non-profit affordable housing developer, to determine how to best deliver City required inclusionary housing. The non-profit identified a need for very low-income large family housing that would benefit from being located on an independent site to better create a sense of community for the families they served. The development approach yielded more affordable units than would have been provided onsite, increasing the tally from the City required 20% to 25%. It also opened up the ability to tap into funding sources that could be used to house supportive programs.
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
The 1.0 acre rooftop includes 1,700sf of native or non-invasive locally adapted plants including 15 trees. The green space functions as a stopover for the urban bird and insect populations. All hardscape materials have high solar reflectivity value to reduce heat island effect. The four rooftop gardens reference local landscape typologies: the food garden features edible plants; the pool garden, desert garden, and recreational garden use a mix of succulents, perennials, and grasses to echo coastal scrub. The rooftop captures views of the Mountains, Ocean, and LA Basin – giving residents a specific sense of place and urban refuge.
Measure 4: Design for Water
Water conservation strategies from low-flow fixtures to onsite water management help conserve a limited resource for all. Highly efficient plumbing fixtures (1.0gpf WCs, 0.5gpm lavatory faucets, 1.75gpm showerheads) and Energy-Star appliances minimize indoor water-use and reliance on municipal services. 96% of plantings are drought-tolerant and fed by an equally efficient purple-pipe landscape irrigation system provided with moisture/rain sensors and supplemented with greywater to further minimize use. The project contributed to city infrastructure designed to control the quality of stormwater runoff before reaching Santa Monica Bay and is waiting on City approval to operate municipal greywater toilets.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
The courtyard massing, choice of open bridges and corridors (as against more exit stairs), character of horizontal awnings and louvers, and faceting of building envelope all exemplify ways to reduce interior heated and cooled space. Lounges, rooftop, outdoor spaces can be used as flexspaces for tenants. In addition, the use of a steel prefabricated structural system conXtech reduced construction time by 3 months and was instrumental in cost-effectively achieving the form as well as facilitating flexible unit planning.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
High-efficiency HVAC, low-wattage LED lighting, Energy-Star appliances, high performance glazing, motion and daylight sensors, and well-insulated exterior walls reduce energy consumption. A series of courtyards break up the streetwall massing to optimize daylight and prevailing ocean breezes. All apartments have operable windows, moveable sunscreens and the building has a high albedo roof to reduce heat island effects. A horizontal awning provides thermal protection for windows where western exposure is a concern. A 100.6kW PV array provides energy-use for resident common areas. A Solar Thermal System reduces hot water energy needs by 66%.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
On the rooftop, the one acre green space offers residents ocean views and a generous backyard in a dense urban location. Each building has different rooftop uses: A backyard kitchen garden with dog run, a pool and lounge area, a native california zen garden and a playing field. Highly visible exterior circulation links all to encourage social interaction and informal exercise. Onsite services are key and resident amenities include a fitness gym, Spa with sauna and steam room, heated loungers, massage and meditation rooms, library and co-working cafe.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
During construction, waste was minimized before disposing in landfills. An overall 82.41% diversion rate of waste generated was achieved. All finish materials were verified for their low-emissions impact. Wood products were FSC certified and insulation was made using recycled content. Low VOC paint is used throughout. Locally sourced products were favored, these include aggregate, cement, and drywall.
Measure 9: Design for Change
The design takes advantage of the mild local climate with outdoor circulation, moveable louvers, and access to fresh air with generous outdoor rooftop space. Earthquakes, fires, and smog are the achilles heel of this region. Structural codes get stricter, but pursuit of healthy air quality during fires and smog events has only recently become a recognized issue for action. This project was designed to withstand a high magnitude earthquake. This includes multiple paths at egress, seismic and movement joints. Use of a steel moment frame structure rather than sheer walls allows for unit reconfiguration in the long term.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
Post-Occupancy resident evaluation has not yet been conducted. As mentioned, the design of the Park offers benefits to both residents and its neighborhood. The approach, reinforced by the project’s LEED Platinum performance, has attracted recognition in the region. As one award juror commented, “The designers of this project gave a lot of attention to humanizing and enriching the city block from bottom to top. The groundfloor is invitiving with recessed storefront, protected walkways, and intermediate gardens.” That validation is useful evidence for developers who, even now, need to make the case for the next project.
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