The Star Apartments are in the heart of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, and the building offers 102 apartment units for formerly homeless individuals. The new modernist structure provides a startling contrast to the rows of tents for the homeless lining neighboring streets. The Star Apartments’ striking street profile comprises asymmetrically arranged, prefabricated rectilinear boxes that suggest an updated version of Moshe Safdie’s Habit 67 in Montreal (1967). Instead of razing the street-level retail units, architect Michael Maltzan used them as a platform on which to build the housing units.
The building contains four terraced floors of residences, along with a variety of community and public health facilities, including an on-site medical clinic, a 15,000-square-foot Health and Wellness Center, and the new headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Housing for Health Division (designed pro bono by the Gensler Architecture firm). Other amenities include a community garden, running track, exercise and art rooms, and a library. Laundry rooms are located on each floor and feature views of the city. The lower cost of the prefabricated units allowed the developers to use higher-quality materials in the individual apartments. The building has earned Platinum LEED certification. Just down the street from the $40 million Star Apartments is the $160 million One Sante Fe development, also designed by Maltzan.
Amelar, Sara. “Stacking The Deck: An architect and a nonprofit client work together for the third time to create housing for the formerly homeless, this time using prefabricated modules.” Architectural Record, June 16, 2015.
Gabor, Ekecs. “Star Stacking in 90 Seconds.” Video for Skid Row Housing Trust. March 10, 2013. http://skidrow.org/.
Holland, Gale. “Innovative apartment complex for homeless people opens on skid row.” Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2014.
Kilston, Lyra. “Good Design Is for Everyone: The Evolution of Low-Income Housing in L.A.” Artbound, March 16, 2015.
“Star Apartments.” Michael Maltzan Architecture. Accessed September 25, 2018. http://www.mmaltzan.com/.
Young Bruehl, Elisabeth. “California plans to build supportive housing for persons with mental illness.” Mental Health Weekly 16, no. 21 (May 22, 2006): 1-3.