Architects: David Baker + Partners
Location: Sacramento, California, United States of America
Project Team: David Baker FAIA LEED AP, Peter MacKenzie AIA, Bradley Sugarman AIA LEED AP, Kevin Markarian AIA LEED AP
Area: 67,356 sq ft
Photographs: Bruce Damonte
Structural Engineer: Anderson Structural Group
Civil Engineer: Cunningham Engineering
Electric: Barnum & Celillo Electric, Inc
Mechanical: KC Engineering
Landscape Architect: Garth Ruffner Landscape Architect
Landscape Consultant: Fletcher Studio
For more than two decades, a high-crime light-rail stop at a toxic empty lot; now, a sustainable affordable housing development and new gateway to downtown. This new affordable rental building remediates a toxic site, bolsters important local electrical and storm-water infrastructure, and brings compact transit-oriented homes to a neglected area.
The project provides 63 affordable homes for local singles and families earning between 30 and 50% of area median income. Taking a strong stand along the rail line, the building provides new neighborhood-serving spaces and puts eyes on the street with private balconies, an outdoor lobby and stair tower, and bridge ways that create views at all levels and on all sides of the site.
The street level facing the light-rail station is activated by new commercial space and a café. An open-air stair and bridge emphasizes walk-ability and social interaction. The building provides secure indoor and outdoor bicycle parking. At ground level, a long span of glass, masked with a “bar-code” mural spelling the building name, illuminates the night sidewalk with a mellow glow while ensuring privacy for the community room inside.
The larger development includes this project—a high-density, 76 unit/acre property with a mix of housing types—located alongside a row of zero-net-energy townhomes by YHLA Architects. Community space and services for both projects are provided on this site.
The sustainable strategies for this project should be understood within the larger context of the whole development, which was planned to transform a high-crime, neglected site next to one of the most utilized transit stops in Sacramento into a diverse, high-density, transit-oriented, mixed-use gateway to the downtown area.
A series of complementary simple and readily available green strategies were employed to reduce the negative impacts of the building on the site, while enhancing measures that improve quality of life for residents.
Site constraints placed most units facing east and west, and heat gain was minimized by facing windows north and south around balconies, minimizing west-facing glazing, and allowing the cladding material to double as a sun shade. A 34 kW rooftop PV array provides a portion of common-area electricity. The project also features low-impact materials, including low-VOC interiors, permeable paving, and drought-tolerant landscaping. Low-energy and low-maintenance technologies such as LED fixtures in the corridors and high-reflectance roofing contributed to the building exceeding Title 24 by 10%.