COMMUNITY - Canon Street - > NEXT PROJECT
This is a 50 unit complex of single room occupancy affordable housing for a special needs population. Providing affordable housing is usually difficult, but this site posed many obstacles. The site is located on a corner which housed a former gas station, the tanks had to be removed and any toxin cleaned up by the superfund. Two existing houses on the property located in the historic district of Charleston, SC had to be rehabilitated and incorporated into the design and reviewed by the board of architectural review. Poor soils conditions were found that required 70 foot pilings and a 3 foot grade beam to hold up the new two story wood frame buildings. The site is also located in flood zone, so the finished floor had elevations 20 inches above existing grade and had to be handicapped accessible for the special needs population. We took of these challenges and turned this blighted site into a viable apartment community.
The design of the complex took its cue from the streetscape of the two existing houses – using a two story scale for the units and allowing the stairwells to break up the mass of the buildings so they appear from the street to separate residences. In the later part of the 18th century a series of townhouses in Charleston painted bright colors affordably housed most of the new immigrant workers. This area is known as Rainbow Row and is presently a very expensive address. Conceptually we wanted to make rainbow row again available for the average resident of Charleston. We used muted colors to give life and variety to the street façade.
One of the existing buildings was rehabilitated into apartments while the other houses offices for the on site manager and administration. The tenants enter through a large common room area into a secure courtyard formed by the new buildings as they wrap around the site. This special needs population (physically and mentally challenged) is heavily subsidized so the courtyard is designed for much use and is landscaped with flowering perennials and site furniture for the enjoyment of the tenants. All of the ground floor units are handicapped accessible with two units designed for the visually and hearing impaired. Meeting the ADA requirements in a unit of only 225 sq. ft. was quite a challenge, but using high ceilings and large windows give an illusion of greater space. Two on site managers provide social services for this population.