La Valentina Station is a new affordable housing development in Sacramento located directly on the light rail line. The site was once a high crime area and a neglected brownfield and the new housing completely transforms the area. Designed by David Baker + Partners Architects, La Valentina Station combines a variety of sustainable building strategies with affordable studio and two-bedroom apartments and new commercial space on the street level to create an improved dynamic in the neighborhood. Solar panels on the roof, energy-efficient design and eco-friendly building materials further complement the high-density and transit-oriented development.
For more than two decades the brownfield lot sat empty and was known for a high crime rate. The light rail line stops directly in front of the site and the new affordable housing development changes the dynamic and acts as a gateway to the downtown area. The four-story building provides 63 affordable homes for local singles and families who earn between 30 and 50% of area median income. At the street level, commercial space and a cafe create new economic opportunities and improve the amenities in the area. Privacy for residents is maintained with careful selection of exterior cladding to act as screens while maintaining light and ventilation into the spaces.
The building is oriented to the east and west, so care was taken in the design to ensure all apartments had access to natural daylight but were also shaded to prevent overheating, especially on the west side. A portion of the electricity for the shared community room is generated by a 34 kW photovoltaic system on the roof. Further sustainable strategies include the use of low-VOC interiors, LED fixtures, a high-reflectance roof membrane, energy star appliances, low flow fixtures, permeable paving, and drought-tolerant landscaping. Completed in 2012, the project has already been awarded the SACOG Salutes! Blueprint Excellence Award by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the Best Infill Project of 2011-12 by the Sacramento Business Journal.
Images © Bruce Damonte