2021 AIA Housing Awards: The Arroyo Affordable Housing by KoningEizenberg Architecture

The Arroyo Affordable Housing

Architect: KoningEizenberg Architecture

Owner: Community Corporation of Santa Monica

Location: Santa Monica, California

Category: Specialized Housing

Emerging from Santa Monica’s progressive and inclusionary affordable housing policy, the Arroyo affordable housing development boasts 64 units at the edge of the transit-serviced and employment-rich city. Qualifying households in the LEED Platinum complex earn between 30 and 60% of the county-average median income, and many residents work in Santa Monica’s service industry.

In Santa Monica, all new market-rate multifamily housing must include a portion of affordable units on-site or nearby. Those units must also be delivered either in advance of or at the same time as the market-rate units. This project was sponsored by a nearby 250-unit development initiated in 2012. The developer identified a nonprofit affordable housing partner to administer the program, which quickly identified a need for very-low-income, large-family units located on a separate site. Doing so allowed the project to offer more units than required by code while attracting supplemental funding sources to cover the cost of building community spaces.

“It is a beautiful, thoughtful design that puts people and community at the heart of the project,”- Jury comment

The first of many mid-rise housing developments along a commercial boulevard, the Arroyo leverages a site constraint—an easement over a 9-foot-diameter, below-grade storm drain—into a landscaped social hub. The building’s rippling facade and its name draw inspiration from a long-gone arroyo, a seasonal creek, that once flowed through the site, carrying water to the Pacific Ocean. The open space harnesses the ample ocean breezes and directs daylight to the units inside while also providing much-needed green space along the rapidly densifying boulevard.

“Very clear sustainability and connectivity diagrams,” noted the jury. “The jury appreciated the effort to take a stormwater drain through the middle of the site and turn this drawback into a feature allowing for natural ventilation and a place to reinforce community bonds.”

Economy was the linchpin for creating the affordable housing, and the team’s design choices were focused on optimizing impact and value for the Arroyo’s residents. Its use of exterior bridges, for example, allows for informal interaction between levels while minimizing the number of required exit stairs. Additionally, passive shading is both ornamental and functional, reducing heat gain and glare. Construction costs in places like Santa Monica often run quite high, but this project was delivered at $440 per square foot, a significant value considering site constraints and subterranean parking needs.

“It is a beautiful, thoughtful design that puts people and community at the heart of the project,” said the jury.


Eric Staudenmaier
Eric Staudenmaier
Eric Staudenmaier
Eric Staudenmaier


Additional information

Civil Engineer: Barbara L Hall, PE, Inc

Landscape Architect: Steve Billings Landscape Architecture

Structural Engineer: John Labib + Associates

Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer: Khalifeh and Associates

Electrical Engineer: OMB

Electrical Engineers Sustainability: Green Dinosaur

Hardware: Finish Hardware

Technology Specifications: AWC West

Acoustical: Veneklasen Associates

Lighting: Oculus Lighting Studio


Ceara O’Leary, AIA (Chair), Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Detroit, MI

Allison Anderson, FAIA, unabridged Architecture, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Kelly Beamon, METROPOLIS, New York, NY

Alex Salazar, AIA, Salazar Architect, Portland, Oregon

Roberta Washington, FAIA, Roberta Washington Architects, New York, NY

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.