Cheap stick framing and the demand for more affordable housing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rise housing projects in the U.S. Cities across America are filled with apartment buildings with boxy designs and somewhat bland facades, often made with simple unarticulated panels and flat windows. Conversely, older apartment buildings have a certain texture, materiality and depth, often lacking in today’s flat façade, flush window buildings.
The new Miramar eschews the notion that today’s mid-rise apartments have a tendency to be banal and uninspiring. The building achieves a greater sense of depth, scale and detail by featuring a perforated metal scalloped façade that ungulates in and out from the building façade beyond to cast ever changing shadows on and between the dual façade system, while also keeping the building cool from direct solar gain and creating privacy on the busy 3rd Street . At the building’s center the façade pushes inward past the building plane that creates an open breezeway allowing natural light and views to pass thru the structure to the garden beyond between the new and existing buildings. Openings in the perforated metal façade in the shape of the building’s windows, move in and out of alignment with each other, creating a sense of movement and change as people pass by. Seen from the street, the building’s scallops make it appears to be ever moving, exposing and hiding portions of the 310 foot long façade.
The project came into being as a kind of accident when the New York developer purchased a multi-property portfolio from a national real estate developer that included this Koreatown site. An existing seven-story precast concrete 157-unit senior housing project was already on the site, built very close to one edge of a larger site. During the architect’s remodel of the existing structure, the developer, wanting to get more into the Los Angeles market for new construction, asked the architects if they knew of any sites available for purchase for new construction. Thinking about the potential new project, the unusually large size of the site and the existing building location of the building on the property, the architects performed a code analysis and discovered that with just a simple lot split, an additional 135 units of housing could be built on the property that they already owned. The new property line (lot split) created a narrowlong parcel on the north side of the property with just enough room for a long and slender and long seven story building that could contain 135 units on the hillside portion of the site along 3rd Street.