Art Gray

Every unit of Millennium East Village has natural light. The five-story, 362-unit mixed-use community in Santa Monica, California, is made up of four linear interlocking bands that zigzag across the site. “By shifting the linear building masses, it gives the people that live there opportunities for many different kinds of outdoor spaces, and we think we really accomplished something special for them,” says architect Michael W. Folonis.

The movement of the floor plates allows for single-loaded corridors, cross ventilation, a variety of outdoor spaces, and a public road to pass over the underground parking structure. The city also required a publicly accessible courtyard for daytime.

Art Gray

“In Santa Monica, we work in one of the hardest cities to navigate through. We look at all the obstacles the codes provide as opportunities to be creative and do something different within the perimeters of their standards,” Folonis shares.

The LEED Platinum project offers 527-square-foot studios, 651-square-foot one-bedroom units, 885-square-foot two-bedroom units, and 1,085-square-foot three-bedroom units. Its passive solar design includes rooftop photovoltaic panels, daylight sensors for lighting control, below-grade drip irrigation, grey water reuse, drywells that harvest excess water from hard surfaces, and drought-tolerant plantings.

Agreeing with the well-lit units is the thoughtful use of exterior color. “It’s integrated into the stucco, long-lasting color,” Folonis says. “This yellow we’ve used sparingly over the years and very carefully—not to overdo it.”