Around the corner from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in L.A.’s Miracle Mile, local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) outfitted a six-unit residential building with a recycled structural steel skin surrounded by muted stucco in what has quickly become a distinctive addition to the area.
But it’s not just a matter of appearances: This permeable outer skin allows air to move between it and the enclosing walls, while protecting the units from sunny California’s often intense heat gain. The skin also sets up a relationship between private spaces and the public street?openings in the skin reveal private porches overlooking the neighborhood. “The building becomes a veil,” juror David Jameson said, “where it allows itself—like an instrument—to tune to a very dense, private component over the bedrooms and bathrooms. Then it starts to become more open as you get into the living areas.”
The living units run the entire width of the building’s footprint, partly in order to allow for cross-ventilation. LOHA pushed circulation to the exterior as a way to maximize the project’s 10,500 square feet, and a roof deck provides even more usable outdoor space for the residents.
Though LOHA did create an aesthetically distinctive project, design, in this case, has less to do with just the look of things than with how the building performs—not only in terms of energy and spatial efficiency, but also as a human and urban experience. “There’s this threshold zone in every unit that has a relationship to the street, which, in L.A., is a very interesting idea,” juror Sheila Kennedy said. “There’s a public life that’s greater than what my bedroom or my kitchen looks like.” —John Gendall
A silvery-white beacon on a typical Los Angeles Miracle Mile block of beige stucco, the four-story, six-unit Cloverdale749, designed by local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, stands out for both its color and for the layers of permeable and opaque metal screens in its façade. Not only does this layering create an interesting visual rhythm for passersby, it also ensures residents’ privacy while affording them good views of the Hollywood sign and downtown Los Angeles. Because the architecture firm came up against the floor area ratio and density limits allowed under the city’s zoning laws, it had to make each one of the building’s 10,500 square feet count. Screened exterior circulation and open-air balconies blur the distinction between public and private while reducing the overall amount of conditioned space. Each unit features an open-plan interior layout naturally illuminated by expansive glazing and clerestory windows. Rooftop decks and ground-level patios extend residents’ living space.
—Amanda Kolson Hurley