2023 AIA Housing Awards: Gramercy Senior Housing by Kevin Daly Architects

Gramercy Senior Housing

Architect: Kevin Daly Architects

Owner: Hollywood Community Housing Corporation 

Location: Los Angeles

Category:  Excellence in Affordable Housing

Project site:  Not Previously developed  

Building program type: Residential – multi-family, 5 or more units

Built on a block-length lot that was once owned by the city of Los Angeles and served as a towing yard, Gramercy Senior Housing is one of the first developments in the city to capitalize on supportive housing funds. The project, guided by extensive public outreach, delivers 64 sorely needed apartments to low-income and homeless seniors in one of the country’s most expensive housing markets. 

Across 70,000 square feet, Gramercy Senior Housing accommodates residents who make less than 50% of the area’s median income and includes a commercial cafe, ample community spaces, and a public plaza on the entry level. The team’s design emerged as six discrete buildings that reflect the scale of the single-family homes that surround it. With bustling Washington Boulevard to the north and a swath of Craftsman homes to the north, the complex is an array of structures connected by an exterior walkway system finished with an organic trellis that contrasts with mirror steel hoods that protect windows from southern exposure. 

Along the boulevard, the buildings’ massing is taller to shield those on the other side, granting residents an extra measure of privacy and maximizing the light available to the surrounding parcels. The project was optimized for modular construction, and its highly efficient floor plans draw in natural light and ventilation from either end. Courtyard spaces just outside the apartments function as shared living rooms, while an edible garden on the roof provides additional community space. 

“This project features interesting massing, and the spine creates a compelling social space for its residents.” – Jury comment

The project offers residents a sense of place that is particular to the site, differentiating it from typical affordable housing projects in Southern California. The team’s focus on establishing connections to the outdoors across multiple levels ensures residents can engage with their surroundings and neighbors without feeling crowded. Instead of relegating outdoor space to an unused corner of the roof, only accessible by elevator or interior stairs, the team has woven connections through all levels to reach users regardless of their age or mobility. 

In addition to adding affordable housing in a city facing increasing homelessness, the project also activates Washington Boulevard, originally built to serve as Los Angeles’ first avenue to the sea. It was once a thriving commercial corridor but has more recently been marked by a mix of small businesses and shuttered storefronts. Prior to construction, the brownfield site was leased to a towing company, which stored its fleet there. The complex’s plaza has helped inject life into the once-abandoned block. 

Project attributes

Year of substantial project completion: 2021

Gross conditioned floor area: 37200 sq. ft.

Project team

Structural Engineering + Shoring Design: John Labib & Associates MEP/Sustainability: PAE Engineers

Engineer- Civil: KPFF Consulting Engineers

Landscape Architect: place 

Code / Fire: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger 

Acoustic: Newson Brown Acoustic Engineers

Specifications: CGA Associates, LLC 

Trash & Loading: American Trash Management, Inc.

Lighting: HLB 

Waterproofing: James West 

Soils/Geotech: Geocon West

CASP: RJC Group Inc

Methane Mitigation: Methane Specialists

Land use Attorney: Rosenheim & Associates, Inc.

Photography: Paul Vu; Joshua White


Catherine Baker, FAIA, Chair, Nowhere Collaborative, Chicago

John DeForest, AIA, DeForest Architects, Seattle

Brian Lane, FAIA, Koning Eizenberg, Santa Monica, Calif.

Amit Price Patel, AIA, DIALOG, Vancouver, British Columbia

Michael D. Robinson, AIA, Robi4 Architecture & Planning, San Diego

AIA Framework for Design Excellence

The AIA Framework for Design Excellence represents the defining principles of good design in the 21st century. Comprised of 10 principles and accompanied by searching questions, the Framework seeks to inform progress toward a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment.

Framework for Design Excellence / Gramercy Senior Housing

Design for Integration

Was there a design charrette?  Yes

Design for Ecosystems

Site area that supports vegetation post-development:  35%

Site area covered by native plants supporting native or migratory species and pollinators: 35%

Strategies used to promote Design for Ecosystems:  Biodiversity, Abatement of specific regional environmental concerns

Design for Water

Is potable water used for irrigation?  Yes

Is potable water used for cooling? Yes

Is grey/blackwater reused on-site? No

Is rainwater collected on-site? Yes

Stormwater managed on-site: 100%

Design for Energy

2030 Commitment baseline EUI:  90 kBtu/sf/yr

Predicted net EUI including on-site renewables:  40 kBtu/sf/yr

Reduction from the benchmark:  55%

Is the project all-electric? No

Design for Well-being

Level of air filters installed:  MERV 12-14

Was a “chemicals of concern” list used to inform material selection? Yes 

Do greater than 90% of occupied spaces have a direct view to the outdoors? Yes 

Design for Resources

Were embodied carbon emissions estimated for this project?  No

Design for Change

Estimated service life:  50 years

Floor area, if any, representing adapting existing buildings: 0%

Ability to survive without utility power: Not habitable without power

Which of the following risk assessment and resilience services were provided? Unknown

Design for Discovery

Has a post-occupancy evaluation been conducted? Yes

Building performance transparency steps taken:

  • Present the design, outcomes, and/or lessons learned to the office


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