Around the corner from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in L.A.’s Miracle Mile, local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) outfitted a six-unit residential building with a recycled structural steel skin surrounded by muted stucco in what has quickly become a distinctive addition to the area.
But it’s not just a matter of appearances: This permeable outer skin allows air to move between it and the enclosing walls, while protecting the units from sunny California’s often intense heat gain. The skin also sets up a relationship between private spaces and the public street?openings in the skin reveal private porches overlooking the neighborhood. “The building becomes a veil,” juror David Jameson said, “where it allows itself—like an instrument—to tune to a very dense, private component over the bedrooms and bathrooms. Then it starts to become more open as you get into the living areas.”
The living units run the entire width of the building’s footprint, partly in order to allow for cross-ventilation. LOHA pushed circulation to the exterior as a way to maximize the project’s 10,500 square feet, and a roof deck provides even more usable outdoor space for the residents.
Though LOHA did create an aesthetically distinctive project, design, in this case, has less to do with just the look of things than with how the building performs—not only in terms of energy and spatial efficiency, but also as a human and urban experience. “There’s this threshold zone in every unit that has a relationship to the street, which, in L.A., is a very interesting idea,” juror Sheila Kennedy said. “There’s a public life that’s greater than what my bedroom or my kitchen looks like.”
See all of the winners of ARCHITECT's 2013 Annual Design Review here.
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Client Papalian Capital
Architect Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), Los Angeles—Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA (principal); Donnie Schmidt (associate); Alex Morassut
Civil Engineer Harvey A. Goodman Civil Engineer
Structural Engineer Labib and Associates
Electrical Engineer Amelect
M/P Engineer MNS Engineering
Landscape Architect LINK Landscape
Photographer Lawrence Anderson Photography
Size 10,500 square feet
Cost $2.31 million