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Step Up

Brooks + Scarpa


Step Up


  • Structural Engineer: JAMA
  • Mechanical Engineer: IBE
  • General Contractor: Ruiz Brothers

Project Status


Year Completed



30,000 sq. feet



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Step Up provides 46 units of affordable housing, plus support services and rehabilitation for the homeless and mentally disabled population. Passive design strategies were key to the planning and design of Step Up, resulting in a building that is 50% more efficient than a conventionally designed structure. These strategies included locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads and shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds and for promoting natural ventilation. South-facing windows are shaded, and all windows are designed to maximize daylighting and natural ventilation. The building is loaded with energy-saving, sustainable devices and materials. Carpet, insulation, and concrete were all specified with recycled content. Compact fluorescent lighting is used throughout the building, and all windows are double-pane with a low emissivity coating. Apartments are equipped with water-saving low-flow toilets and a high-efficiency hydronic system for heat.  Custom water-jet anodized aluminum panels on the main façade create a dramatic screen that sparkles in the sun and glows at night. The panels also act as sun protection and privacy screens. The material reappears as a strategic arrangement of screens on east- and south-facing walls, lending a subtle rhythm to the exterior circulation walkways and stairs. Asymmetrical horizontal openings on south-facing walls filter direct sunlight, provide unexpected visual depth, and create a sense of security for occupants. 

Learn more about both AIA/HUD Secretary Award winners here.

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