A Vibrant University Residence in California

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A multi-level UCLA off-campus residence by Lorcan O’Herlihy gets top marks for its unique use of a hillside locale.

Los Angeles firm Lorcan O’Herlihy definitely did their homework leading up to this recent project in Westwood, California — a student and faculty residence with communal lounges, workspaces and fitness rooms. The tiered programme of the UCLA Adjacent Student and Faculty Housing works on many levels, literally and figuratively, with coveted outdoor space on each of the floors. Student well-being is definitely top of mind here. A series of landscaped roof terraces and open-air corridors connects the indoors to out. The firm (whose Flynn Mews House in Dublin was a 2015 AZ Award People’s Choice winner) is known for its thoughtful initiatives in the city of Los Angeles, promoting green spaces and innovative concepts for urban regeneration.

At 55,000 square feet, the residence was a large structure to be inserted into a well-established neighbourhood, especially when sited opposite Richard Neutra’s landmark Strathmore Apartments built in 1937. Rather than a hulking mass that abuts the road, the building nestles into its wedge-shaped hillside location, stepping down toward the sidewalk. The firm divided the complex into two volumes allowing for wind cross-ventilation into the 31 units.

The exterior white metal panels vary in texture with some solid, and others perforated or ribbed. Bold green cement board gives dimension and personality to the building; the green hue is darkest at the base and becomes lighter near the top of the building. The perforations also soften the scale of the residence and its impact on the neighbourhood by creating dappled light and animated shadows as the sun moves through the day.

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