This article was originally published by Building Design + Construction.
Veterans Village of Carson is an affordable housing development offering 51 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units as well as onsite case management and supportive services to U.S. military veterans and their families.
Located adjacent to the 110 freeway in Carson, a low-rise urban section of Los Angeles, the project team addressed the specific needs of its residents.
WITHEE MALCOLM ARCHITECTS CREATES FULL AMENITIES PACKAGE
Designed by Torrance-based Withee Malcolm Architects for developer Thomas Safran & Associates, the three-story, mixed-use development employs Type V over one-story podium construction. Unit features include kitchens and bathrooms with granite countertops and solid-wood cabinetry.
It has a fitness center, outdoor areas at the podium level and second floor, and a 3,500-sf new community room equipped with a full kitchen, spacious seating areas, a computer lounge, pool table, piano and TV room.
Other amenities: laundry facilities, outdoor barbecue area, a children’s playground, and resident gardens. The gated community features secured access and on-site management and maintenance staff.
Care was taken to ensure community areas were welcoming and warm by including the addition of natural wood, stone accents, and comfortable seating.
TURNING UNITS TO BLOCK NOISE FROM THE NEARBY FREEWAY
The 1.15-acre site lies adjacent to the 110 freeway, a main north-south corridor connecting Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles with San Pedro and the Ports. The design team minimized noise to the interior living spaces as well as exterior community spaces.
Units located along the freeway side of the property were turned so that active windows and living spaces were oriented toward the interior courtyard and away from the noise source. In essence, the backs of the units were used as a sound buffer for interior landscaped courtyards and other residences.
COMMERCIAL SPACE OPENS UP ADDITIONAL LINK TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Commercial space on the corner of the building opens to an outdoor plaza to further encourage interaction between residents and the neighborhood.
Through design details and paint in light colors, the arrival experience mimics a parking court rather
than car garage, making the experience equally enticing for residents and retail shoppers.
To mitigate costs associated with additional parking, stalls for both residential and commercial uses were located on the ground level, screened from view by the commercial component, the main entry lobby, and abundant landscaping. Keeping the parking on grade also allowed natural ventilation and light.
SUPPORTIVE SERVICES PROVIDED BY U.S. VETS
At Veterans Village, U.S. VETS, a service organization whose mission is to end homelessness among veterans, provides supportive services to residents, including occupational training, access to medical/dental care, and point-of-retention services.
Veterans Village of Carson is a Tax Credit property that accepts Housing Choice (Section 8) and VASH vouchers. Preference is given to U.S. military veterans. The community was developed in collaboration with the City of Carson.
‘EXTRA EFFORT’ TO CREATE AN ‘UPLIFTING’ EXPERIENCE
Designing the spaces for these services in ways that evoke home has encouraged veterans to take advantage of assistance that benefits them and the larger community. “We look for every opportunity to make these projects special for the people who live there,” said Thomas Safran & Associates’ Tyler Monroe. “We put extra effort into the design, aesthetics, landscape, and finishes.”
Affordable housing, he said, “should look as good, if not better, than anything else in the neighborhood. It should be uplifting, enriching, and contribute to the environment and its residents.”
HOW ONE RESIDENT VIEWS HIS NEW HOME
For Navy veteran and resident Ross Schenck, even restrictions put in place by COVID have not dampened the experience. “It’s beautiful there….it’s like a resort,” he said. “I love the views, the location, and I’ve loved getting to know almost all of my neighbors.”