Clad in bright pastel lace-like shutters, the Step Up on 5th in downtown Santa Monica is a shelter, support center, and rehabilitation center for the local homeless and mentally disabled. Designed by Brooks and Scarpa, the cheery building combines forward thinking social and environmental practices, and is a welcome landmark for the area. Step Up on 5th provides a safe residence for the unfortunate, while also sticking closely to sustainable LEED architecture.
The building features 46 private studio apartments for low-income residents, that top off a ground level of commercial and retail spaces. A lower level parking garage houses staff vehicles. Each apartment features a set of perforated aluminum shutters on the front of the building, which not only provide privacy, but also filter sun light, reducing solar gain to the interior. The south side of the building has colorful asymmetrical horizontal cutaway openings, that also filter light, and create security for the tenants.
Brooks and Scarpa wanted to ensure that their design created a sense of comfort and security for their residents. Private, gated courtyards are located on the second level, accessible to all inhabitants, as well as community rooms on every other level for socializing.
Energy efficiency was as important as creating a welcoming environment, so Brooks and Scarpa began from the ground up, recycling and conserving materials from the very beginning of construction. Following the LEED certification process, the building earned a total of 39 points in the category of energy efficiency. Natural ventilation, solar load control, day light maximizing, optimal use of shading, low flow fixtures, and storm water management are some of the passive ways the building has become more energy efficient. The materials used in throughout the building’s exteriorand interior include a high content of recycled materials.
Step Up on 5th is not only a gorgeous and welcoming residence, but its exceptional sustainable and energy efficient features make it a modern landmark in downtown Santa Monica.