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Gramercy Senior Housing

Kevin Daly Architects

Los Angeles, CA, United States

June 2021


Kevin Daly (Principal-in-Charge)


Luke Smith (Project Manager), Jared Ward (Project Architect), Fabio Zangoli (Structural Engineer), Christian Agulles (MEP Engineer), Victoria Pakshong (Landscape Architect


Hollywood Community Housing Corporation


Here And Now Agency


A primary objective was to integrate this supportive housing project in the neighborhood; the developers sought a project that contributed to and would be supported by the community. The planning process included two years of mandatory community meetings with representatives of the Neighborhood Councils adjoining the site. Concerned about limited street parking, the neighbors demanded a full subterranean parking level. They did not want metal siding used on the building. And if possible, could the ground floor retail space be a neighborhood pizza place?

The structure of the financing for the project was more complex than the structural engineering for the building itself: in addition to tax exempt bonds and loans, the project received City and County of LA grants to support affordable housing construction.

The funding sources helped determine the intended demographic for the project: the project is 100% affordable with rents set for 50% Area Median Income. It is senior housing, 55 years and older, and 50% of the tenants have experienced homelessness, requiring on site service providers to support this population. All units are one bedroom to meet the needs of single elderly residents. The proximity of the site to rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods nearby like West Adams and Crenshaw allowed longtime residents of those neighborhoods to find housing nearby and maintain social connections to familiar institutions.

It is a vulnerable population; inconspicuous security measures were essential. The non profit developer owns and operates the building; minimizing energy use was a significant project objective.


Gramercy Housing is in Mid City Los Angeles, a district with no clear boundaries but recognizable enough to estimate travel time from other amorphous areas: Westside, Hollywood, South LA. Gramercy Housing is located on Washington Boulevard, one of the defining boulevards in the city, an east/west arterial that runs from Venice Beach to an abrupt end 30 miles away in Whittier. The site occupies a full block between Gramercy and Wilton Place; in an era before Google Maps, this was a “locals only” north/south shortcut through town. The site was designated as a Redevelopment Authority parcel and owned by the City of Los Angeles; for decades it was a fenced parking lot, usually leased to film production companies.

Mid City Washington Boulevard is a mix of commercial and industrial uses that fill out the bowstring truss buildings lining commercial corridors in Los Angeles: a performing arts conservatory is adjacent, a kitchen supply wholesaler is across the street, and a tow yard next to that. Small galleries and charter schools fill spaces between repair shops and retail; intact Victorian neighborhoods fill the streets behind the boulevard. The neighbor immediately to the north of the site is an example, owned by a candidate for the office of Mayor of Los Angeles.

The economic context was also critical: both the cost of housing and the cost of construction in Los Angeles County had reached historic levels, simultaneously driving urgency for new construction while also restricting its implementation.


The project is organized as six freestanding pavilions connected by a multi-level interior street. The massing steps down to the single family neighborhood to the north to reduce shading of existing yards.

Environmental performance is focused on passive strategies. The south facing boulevard façade is exposed to both traffic noise and mid day sun. A single oversized window serves each apartment; each window is surrounded by a mirror stainless steel canopy to shade the glass and animate the plaster façade with reflected light. Shared solar thermal hot water array and storage, providing tenants with an “off meter” heat source while significantly reducing the use of non-renewable fuel sources. The project is single loaded, providing naturally ventilated units and minimizing the need for air conditioning.

The block-long multilevel bridge connecting the pavilions is also essential to the social performance of the project. The bridge widens in multiple locations to create shaded outdoor living rooms and connects to a rooftop community garden. Each unit attaches to the bridge with a “front porch”, providing tenants with secure outdoor private space to socialize with neighbors and visitors. These spaces have been individualized to reflect the tenants personalities, with some furnished as extensions of the living space and others as micro dog parks.

The community has embraced the project. Neighborhood councils once skeptical of the project now use the community room for meetings, volunteer to manage the rooftop garden, and operate semimonthly food bank.

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