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Aluminum

New kid on the block

By Lisa Rummler

November 2009- When you get down to it, most Americans' basic necessities are threefold: clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head. Unfortunately, attaining these things isn't always so easy--a visit to any food pantry or homeless shelter makes that painfully clear.

But for the homeless population in Santa Monica, Calif., there is a new place to turn for help. In addition to providing 46 studio apartments for permanent, affordable housing, Step Up on Fifth offers support services and rehabilitation for people who are homeless, as well as people who suffer from mental disabilities.

The 31,600-sq.-ft. building, designed by Pugh + Scarpa Architects, Santa Monica, also includes below-ground parking and commercial and retail space on its street level.

Keeping up appearances
In addition to serving populations in need, Step Up on Fifth helps brighten the appearance of Fifth Street in downtown Santa Monica.

Multicolored, custom waterjet-anodized aluminum panels play a key role in the building's exterior that faces the street. The prototype for the panels was done by El Segundo, Calif.-based breakform design.

According to a press release from Pugh + Scarpa, "[The panels] create a dramatic screen that sparkles in the sun and glows at night while also acting as sun protection and privacy screens. The material reappears as a strategic arrangement of screens on east- and south-facing walls, lending a subtle rhythm to the exterior circulation walkways and stairs."

Additionally, a series of openings throughout Step Up on Fifth add to the building's aesthetic appeal while serving a functional purpose.

"South-facing walls filter direct sunlight with asymmetrical horizontal openings that lend unexpected visual depth while creating a sense of security for the emotionally sensitive occupants," according to the press release. "Enhancing the structure's geometric texture, the irregular array of openings variably extrudes from the building's surface."

Going green
Step Up on Fifth also stands out from other buildings because of its high level of eco-friendliness--both while it was being built and since it's been opened. "It incorporates energy-efficient measures that exceed standard practices, optimize building performance and ensure reduced energy use during all phases of construction and occupancy," according to the press release. "The planning and design of Step Up on Fifth emerged from close consideration and employment of passive solar design strategies."

Thanks to these practices (which include designing windows to maximize day lighting, as well as shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds), Step Up on Fifth is 50 percent more efficient than other conventionally designed structures.

"The building is loaded with energy-saving and environmentally benign or 'sustainable' devices," according to the press release. "Materials conservation and recycling were employed during construction by requiring all waste to be hauled to a transfer station for recycling. The overall project achieved more than a 75 percent recycling rate." FFJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

  • Pugh + Scarpa Architects
    Santa Monica, Calif.
    phone: 310/828-0226
    fax: 310/453-9606
    www.pugh-scarpa.com
    e-mail: info@pugh-scarpa.com

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