Berkeley Place is the antithesis of what low-income housing used to be. Plugged into a major street corner in Santa Monica, its extroverted architecture relates to everything around it, rather than turning insular. Units facing west toward a commercial block feature walk-up stoops reminiscent of traditional urban row housing (albeit with a decidedly contemporary California twist), while the project’s eastern edge shows sensitivity to an adjacent residential area by outfitting ground-floor units with large patios. The project shows equal respect for the planet, with sustainable features including a dry well to reduce stormwater runoff, an oil/water separator, low-VOC paints and carpets, and energy-efficient appliances. The roofs are primed for future solar panels.

CATEGORY: Affordable housing
ENTRANT/ARCHITECT/INTERIOR DESIGNER: DE Architects, Santa Monica, Calif.
BUILDER: Ruiz Brothers Construction Co., City of Commerce, Calif.
DEVELOPER: Community Corp. of Santa Monica, Santa Monica
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Wynn Landscape Architects, Topanga, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA.