Young and formerly unhoused Angelenos transitioning out of youth facilities and foster care now have a new place to seek safe, secure, and, most critically, all-affordable housing in the form of the Brooks + Scarpa–designed Rose Apartments.
Located at 718–720 Rose Avenue in Venice, the $20.6 million permanent supportive housing development recently opened its doors to its first residents, including chronically homeless adults and transitional aged youth who have “termed out” of being in the custody of the state and are seeking permanent affordable housing at a time in Los Angeles when such a thing is dreadfully scarce. Spread across four stories, the courtyard-anchored complex includes a mix of 35 studio and one-bedroom apartments (predominately the former) with rents currently locked in at 30 percent or below the area median income. The Venice location at the intersection of trendy Rose Avenue Lincoln Boulevard is a highly desirable one that’s convenient to public transit and located within close walking distance to a slew of amenities, including a Whole Foods Market just across the street. Venice’s famed namesake beach is also just several blocks away. The Walk Score for the site is a nothing-to-scoff at 88.
In addition to highlighting its pedestrian-friendly location that doesn’t necessitate owning a car, the firm noted that Rose Apartments contributes to L.A.’s severely strapped affordable housing stock in a particularly impactful manner. The fact that the newly opened complex is in the heart of an affluent section of the city means that low-wage workers, namely those employed in service positions at Venice’s wealth of buzzy shops and restaurants, can actually reside in the same neighborhood where they work instead of spending hours on end commuting to and from work.
As for the U-shaped, 20,900-square-foot building itself, the affordable 35 housing units top a base dedicated to commercial space while a landscaped elevated courtyard serves as the social heart of the complex. Notably, the complex offers a contemporary take on L.A.’s once-dominant (and currently woefully underutilized) multi-family courtyard typology and opens itself up to the neighborhood with a form described by Brooks + Scarpa as a “carved-out cube, a beacon in the neighborhood that celebrates social space by de-emphasizing private space.”
The design of the Rose Apartments specifically tips its hat to Horatio West Court, a landmark courtyard complex in neighboring Santa Monica completed in 1919 with a design by Irving Gill. As noted by Brooks + Scarpa, which has offices in both L.A. and in Fort Lauderdale (AIA Gold Medal–winning coprincipals Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa are both native Floridians) and is no stranger to designing affordable multifamily housing on both coasts, this classic L.A. housing typology not only promotes pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods but also “provides a sense of safety and privacy; the courtyard is a quasi-public space that mediates between the home and the street.” This balance of privacy and interaction–fostering openness is a key consideration for its young residents who have experienced homelessness.
The project’s embrace of early 20th century courtyard housing even extends to the cement plaster–clad exterior walls of the building, which have been scalloped to “give depth, relief and texture, an issue that affordable housing projects typically suffer,” the firm explained. A sparkle grain finish gives the facade additional shimmering, street-level appeal.
As noted by Spectrum News back in May when the LEED Gold-certified Rose Apartments first opened, the complex, which includes on-site resident services including case management and career development programs, is funded by Proposition HHH and was the second such project to open that week funded by the 2016 ballot measure along with the Gonzalez Goodale Architects–designed PATH Villas Montclair complex in South L.A. (AN also recently profiled another PATH Ventures-led project, the KFA-designed PATH Metro Villas.) The passage of Proposition HHH has led to the creation of 25 permanent supportive and affordable housing projects totaling over 1,500 units with 74 total more projects in the pipeline at the time of the Rose Apartments’ opening.
The Rose Apartments replaces a single-story, 1970s-era office building that previously served as home of affordable housing and community development nonprofit Venice Community Housing, which shepherded the project and now populates 2,000 square feet of administrative office space within the new building.