L.A. City Planning Commission approves Eric Owen Moss’s canal-straddling Reese Davidson Community

Affordable Venice Palazzo

L.A. City Planning Commission approves Eric Owen Moss’s canal-straddling Reese Davidson Community

The Eric Owen Moss-designed Reese Davidson Community is a supportive housing complex that just receives construction approval from the City of Los Angeles (Courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

It is not exactly news that the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and California as a whole, is suffering from one of the country’s most acute housing shortages with an estimated 66,436 unhoused people as of June 2020. A court order to address the mounting crisis, as well as a leftward tilt of the electorate, is driving the approval of numerous affordable projects, including that designed by Eric Owen Moss Architects which was just cleared for construction in Venice, Los Angeles.

The supportive housing complex, dubbed the Reese Davidson Community, is a $75 million joint collaboration between the Venice Community Housing Corporation and the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation that will primarily house the formerly homeless and low-income tenants. Apartments will also be provided to the complex’s support staff and several work-live spaces will be carved out for artists. The development is named after deceased Venice Community Housing’s co-founder Rick Davidson and Arthur Reese, a prominent member of Venice’s Black community.

A map of Venice, L.A., showing a new development along the canal before the beach
The 2.65-acre project replaces two surface parking lots in Venice and is mere blocks from the beach. (Courtesy City of Los Angeles)

The approximately 100,000-square-foot development consists of two low-rise and sand-colored geometric volumes—both resting atop a relatively narrow podium and that turn every which way as inverted gable or canted turret—that will run abreast of Venice’s Grand Canal and replace existing surface parking lots. The current proposal includes 140 apartments, approximately 7,400-square-feet of commercial space, and a 360-car parking garage for residents and visitors to the neighborhood. Additionally, a 3,000-square-foot community room and performance space called the Gregory Hines Community Arts Center will be found on the ground floor.

Renderings released by Eric Owen Moss Architects also reveal substantial and publicly accessible landscaping along the canal, including new plantings, such as long grass and allees of trees, and stepped paving.

Massing of the  Reese Davidson Community complex
In typical Eric Owen Moss fashion, the design includes overstated geometric motifs and a peculiar non-rectilinear massing. (Courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

Although the Reese Davidson Community has gained approval from the city, it is certainly subject to the ire of area residents. According to Archinect, groups such as the Venice Neighborhood Council and Fight Back Venice have characterized the development as unsightly and detrimental to the health and safety of the area. And in anonymous testimonials published on their website, outraged residents have acclaimed a slew of grievances such as “why should 200+ homeless transients live on the canals for free when I, as a local resident, could not afford the taxes let alone the purchase price??” or that “this project is nothing more than a handout to developers and the expense of the taxpayers and the community at large.”

The groundbreaking date is yet to be announced.