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A small multi-family project makes a big impact with artful design that is accessible, affordable and green.
 


PROJECT TEAM
Builder
Jeff Halperin and Curtis King
D&H Construction
El Cerrito, CA


Architect
Irving Gonzales and Jennifer Wichtowski
Gonzales Architects
San Francisco


Developer
Darin Lounds and Brianne Steinhauser
HCEB
Oakland, CA


Landscape Architect
Topher Delaney and Rody Santamarina
T. Delaney-SEAM
Studio San Francisco


The original classic box structure and many architectural details were preserved or restored. The photovoltaic system offsets at least 40% of the energy load.


The project is developed, owned, and operated by Housing Consortium of the East Bay and serves people with developmental disabilities.


 


In Emeryville’s bustling Triangle neighborhood, a century-old four-plex was lifted off its foundation and moved to a new lot one block away to preserve it from being razed during redevelopment of the old site. It was stripped to its studs and then thoroughly rehabbed to create five apartments for developmentally disabled adults that are affordable, comfortable, and green.


“One of the most exciting things about the project was how challenging it was. The building was a jewel box—a box-style house that had a layout that was probably more appropriate for two flats than five units,” says architect Irving Gonzalex. “So it was a jigsaw puzzle to put it together with the ADA and California’s requirements for ground floor accessibility.”


The owner/developer, Housing Consortium of the East Bay (HCEB), wanted the $2.37 million, 2,800-sq.-ft. project to pro- vide efficient and comfortable housing for the disabled but not look like “institutional” housing.


The design team took advantage of the building’s existing characteristics to make the tight square footage “live” larger. “The units don’t have anything they don’t need,” notes Jennifer Wichtowski of Gonzales Architects. “Design elements like high ceilings, windows placed higher up, and open plans enhance the space.”


“It was a game of inches—and every inch counted,” agrees Gonzalez, of the design constraints the team faced. In addition, the team had to stay on top of the green specs of the project. “It’s a challenge to work with contractors and subs and to maintain the quality, requirements, and sustainable approaches we expect, such as proper insulation installation or air sealing.


Gonzales believes that green specs should be pushed. Even if a product meets the requirements of a green program or checklist, if a more sustainable option is available, it should be used. He cites an ex- ample of wood stain a subcontractor was going to use on the project. His team knew a natural product with much lower chemical content existed, and insisted that the more healthy product be used to ensure good air quality. “As architects, we have to stay on top of specs,” Gonzales emphasizes.

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