The Sierras Housing

The Sierra brings 38 new transitional housing units online for families currently experiencing homelessness in the high desert of Los Angeles County.

Location: Lancaster, CA
Client: Hope the Mission
Architect:  Kadre Architects
Landscape Architect: Kadre with TerreMoto
MEP Engineer: CEG
Civil Engineer: Barbara Hall & Associates, PE 
Structural Engineer: Nous Engineering
Lighting Design: Dan Weinreber, KGM Lighting
Commercial Kitchen: Jerry Stein, Global Restaurant Design
Contractor: FORD E.C.

Pure design transformed a motel-style lot from a crime-ridden eyesore into a park-like community campus. Situated off a stretch of highway that once housed the dilapidated motels, the 4-acre parcel in the desert is now a place of safety, dignity and revitalization.

Where parking was once prominently featured, it is now relegated to the rear of the property, leaving the grounds open for pedestrian use and recreational activities.

The extremely small size of the existing motel rooms pushed the architects to envision a new solar porch typology which lines the existing buildings and doubles the living area of each room. The solar porch’s lattice-like construction offers a reverie of light and its shadow that plays out against the vibrantly colored walls throughout the day. Porches also provide a significant presence and ground the existing buildings in the vast landscape.

Most of the site, including parking spaces, remains permeable to replenish the aquifer during the infrequent rains. Significant underground infiltration basins collect rainwater and slowly release it over time. The required asphalted fire road is covered with colorful, high albedo paint. Due to tight budget, the planned solar array was deferred, as funds were diverted to replacing collapsed septic tanks to a sewer system (discovered in design).

The parking lot transformed into a park; vibrant, green outdoor space and garden has replaced the asphalt.  Shade structures throughout the property battle the desert heat, providing much-needed respite. The new grounds feature meandering colorful walkways inspired by Brice Marden’s Propitious Garden paintings and intuitively connect the formerly disparate spaces into one cohesive campus.