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Palo Verde provides 60 studio units of permanent supportive housing for previously homeless single adults living with mental illness. In support of their needs, the project includes community, offices and program space to provide social/recreational, counseling, recovery and employment services.
Palo Verde was designed with the community and its future residents in mind, creating the requisite atmosphere of stability and openness to treatment and socialization among the residents. The 35,000-square-foot U-shaped complex takes its architectural cues from the Mediterranean-style neighborhood, re-invigorating it with a contemporary character. Projecting bay windows and balconies allow generous views of the neighborhood and animate the façade, giving it a welcoming atmosphere. Providing its future residents a sense of pride in the quality of their home, the project at once invests in and embraces the community.
At the planning stage, the foremost concern was balancing the individual’s need for privacy with an underlying spatial and programmatic organization that also fosters a sense of a larger community of support. A de-centralized organization of supportive services distributed at nodes designed for everyday activity—checking mail, doing laundry or walking the corridors—turns interactions with service providers and case managers into chance encounters with a neighbor and a part of the daily routine in the community.
This network of nodes encircles and energizes a larger social venue for the complex. As its main focus, the garden courtyard at Palo Verde reconnects the building’s various parts into a cohesive whole and provides residents with both a place of respite and a venue for community celebration.
In its composition, scale, access to light and open space, each element of the design is used to convey a message of quality, care and value. While budget constraints in affordable housing limit the architect’s choice in material selection, it is the keen attention to details that elevates the everyday material to a statement of demonstrated care and built-in value. An appropriate balancing of initial capital investments with long-term maintenance and operational costs lead to a deepened richness of palette and design durability that will help maintain the building as long-term assets in the community.
Environmental Sustainability at Palo Verde
Environmental sustainability has been a key component of the project design and construction. Palo Verde, an urban infill project replacing a former self-serve car wash, is located in close proximity to public transportation and within walking distance of shops, restaurants and other businesses. The previously paved surface of the car wash lot, a major local contributor to urban run-off, is now replaced with a lushly landscaped courtyard not only reducing the heat island effect but maximizing on on-site retention and infiltration of storm-water.
Also the building’s “cool roof” supports an extensive array of photovoltaic panels generating 77,000 kBTU annually – this equals approximately 41% of the building’s electrical need. Other building components such as daylight harvesting, energy star appliances, high efficiency mechanical equipment, water saving plumbing fixtures and drought tolerant landscaping contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the building.
The building surpasses the State of California standards for energy efficiency by 37%. The materials and finishes used in the construction had in excess of 20% post consumer recycled content. Up to 75% of construction waste was diverted from disposal and also recycled. Use of low and no off-gasing materials, green cleaning products in the maintenance program and the implementation of indoor air quality management program during construction and before occupancy provide for a healthy living environment for the residents.
Ming Yang Yeh – Structural Engineering
Khalifeh and Associates – MEP
Coory Engineering – Civil Engineering
Mark Beall – landscape architect
General Contractor: Drefuss Construction