Located in mid-city, the East Block project seeks to punctuate the mundane strip architecture of El Cajon Blvd with a “civic moment” consisting of a town square and community gardens. Fronting the town square on the north is an arcaded six-story 117-unit senior housing project with its common space amenities helping to animate the square. Senior residents will become “custodians” of the square. Adjacent to the senior housing and behind it is a five-story 78-unit family housing project with two and three bedrooms. The open space between the two housing projects is designed to encourage inter- generational activities among residents. On 44th Street, a largely residential street, the family project has a generous setback from the street. It scales down to one-story meeting rooms and courtyards facing the sidewalk and a long community garden completes the street frontage creating a green transition from street to building.
The layout of the family housing is unique and original. Abundant daylight enters the corridors on every floor in numerous places transforming the typical dark and dreaded double-loaded corridor into a pleasant entry experience. The units themselves have unusually large windows and are arranged around small light courts. The kitchen, dining room and living room receive abundant natural light, helping to create a more joyful and dignified living experience. The courtyard layout also minimizes traffic noise from Fairmount Blvd so that windows can be left open.
Circulation is configured to allow senior residents to access the main gathering courtyard and community gardens without violating the security of the family housing project.
2014 AIA Santa Clara Valley / Design Awards / Honor Awards
Jury Comments: Great use of daylight design, unusual design raises the bar on housing. Noise mitigation excellent. Brilliant floor plan. Nice use of color and defensible space.