Row house
Kippen Condos
Adams, William | Santa Monica, USA | 1991
Image of Kippen ...
Street facade, detail

ProjectKippen Condos
ArchitectAdams, William
CitySanta Monica
Address2318 2nd Street
Building TypeRow house
Number of Dwellings4
Date Built1991
Dwelling Types2 BR townhouses
No. Floors3
Section Typesingle house
Exterior Finish
stucco, metal, wood
Construction Typewoor frame (type V)
Ancillary Servicesunderground parking

Typical city blocks in Los Angeles are usually divided into 50' x 150' lots; a pattern of parceling derived from the national land subdivision system, the section. This is the typical lot size for the single-family house in many cities in Southern California. The same-sized lots are also frequently used for multiple dwellings placed either as a row of semi-detached small-single story bungalows with a common walk along one side, or as a double row of dwellings sharing a common courtyard, a version of the concept that uses two lots. In response to the need for greater housing densities while providing for off-street parking, many cities allow several three-story houses with underground parking on one of these lots. Unlike traditional rowhouses that are usually arranged side-by-side facing the street with a porch or entrance from the street and some kind of garden at the rear, multiple dwelling arrangements on the 50x150 lot are usually arranged with the row of buildings turned 90 degrees to the street. The Kippen Condos are this kind of grouping; four 3-story rowhouses in a line perpendicular to the street, raised above underground parking with pedestrian access along one side and a ramp to the garage from the street. This type of housing has become common in the city of Santa Monica as the city has sought to provide more housing opportunities. The example shown here is one of the most recent examples of the type.

This is a transitional mixed neighborhood of commercial street building of various heights, parking lots, and mixed single and multiple family dwellings. The north and west sides of the lot front a parking lot so that both garage and pedestrian entrance are made from the street. Perimeter walls and minimal landscaping define the sides of the lot, leaving a modest garden at the front and rear of the lot and a narrow garden space along the south side of the modest row of houses. The 4 houses are a concatenated set of nearly identical 3-story, attached elements. The plans are organized as staggered, alternating large and small bays facing to the outside and wrapped around a central void that contains the stair. The spatial idiom of large and small zones is clearly the raison d'être of the massing, use of materials and detail development of the group. The narrow zones are expressed as solid and void and create an entrance condition, terraces, a narrow bay for one bathroom and are articulated with the chimney, windows, deck, and roof elements. Entrance is made from the pedestrian walk, past the tall void of the living room and bottom bedroom to a central entrance hall that is expressed as a tall vertical void within which is the stairs. There are two bedrooms and two baths on this floor. The stair connects to the main living spaces on the second floor. Here the double-height void of the living room with a partial vaulted ceiling dominates while the space beneath the mezzanine on the 3rd floor defines a dining area that is connected to the kitchen on the opposite side of the building. The stair continues to the loft that overlooks the void of the living room and connects to an outside deck that is also the fire exit from the top floor. The use of materials reinforces the perception of vernacular references to Santa Monica domestic traditions: cedar bungalow, stucco boxes, standing seam metal roofs, decks and trellises. The central stair also encourages a reading of two tall, narrow, solid towers of unequal height on either side of a central open zone that allows light to penetrate from above and has a roof that is expressed as an independent vaulted element. A very hierarchical organization results from the repetitive application of a set of architectonic elements; windows, trellises, metal elements, chimneys, and stairs. The formal problem of how to deal with the end of a string of rowhouses has been solved on the western end by use of the exit stair from the roof. The problem of the front façade on 2nd, which a more challenging design condition because of ramp to the garage, was solved by extending small balconies to the side of the end house that are sheathed in metal and by adding several discreet windows that compositionally suggest a front.

Los Angeles Housing Department, Good Neighbors Housing that Supports Stable Communities, 1994, pp. 32-33.

Architecture, Jan, 1993, pp. 66-68

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