Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo Essay: Elevated Architecture Down on Skid Row

I always like the chance to see how other people live - no matter where they live.

So I've jumped at the chance to visit any variety of historic homes around the LA area, from the architecturally significant works of modernist design, to the urban farms of Compton.

Skid Row was going to be no exception.

The Carver Apartments at 17th and Hope is a special project that provides long-term, permanent housing for qualifying members of the homeless community, as developed by the Skid Row Housing Trust (a non-profit), and designed by architect Michael Maltazan.

As Maltazan depicts it, the Carver Apartments is only one in a series of projects devoted to alleviating LA's homeless problem, fitting in alongside the Rainbow Apartments and the in-progress Star Apartments.

Carver is perhaps best-known architecturally for its spiralled central courtyard, lined with identical pie-shaped single occupancy apartments, but as you climb upstairs...

...through the bright yellow stairwell... also note the building's proximity to the 10 Freeway, which at one point is at eye level.

The apartments themselves aren't much: they're essentially sleeping quarters...

...some with a nice view of the community garden...

...but their genius is in their simplicity, forcing the residents outside of their living quarters down to the communal kitchen, and up to the sixth floor patio...

...for yoga classes and uninterrupted city skyline views.

The Carver Apartments is a significant housing project not only in its need-based, weighted admissions process (which has created a long waitlist), but also in its attempt to bring beautiful design and architectural significance to affordable housing.

The building also features a medical clinic, psychological services, and personal case managers...

...who try to ensure the success of their residents.

Light streams in from every window...

...and the bright colors lift the spirits of even a visitor like me, thinking how close I've come to qualifying for residency at a place like this, and how plausible it might be for me sometime in the future.

It's nice to know that for some, who may have taken a few wrong turns and been dealt a few bad hands, there is the opportunity to live somewhere beautiful and have the opportunity to rehabilitate from whatever ails them.

Not everyone gets that chance.

Not enough people get that chance.

But organizations like the housing trust are working on it.

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