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Santa Ana Arts Collective


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Location: California / USA / Type: Atriums / Residential Parks / Built: 2019 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on January 26, 2024

The first project redeveloped under Santa Ana’s new adaptive reuse ordinance, Santa Ana Arts Collective (SAAC) repurposed a 1965 international style office building into 100% affordable, studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom live-work lofts.

The project adds 10 new affordable two- and three-bedroom townhomes. Walkable to Santa Ana’s arts institutions, the redevelopment at 1666 N. Main Street includes art studio spaces, a dance studio, art gallery, two music studios and other arts-focused amenities for both residents and the public. The townhomes define ground level open space scaled to provide active play areas for children with safety zones and seating areas.

The project supports the City’s mission of developing Main Street into an arts corridor, bringing exceptionally high-quality affordable homes to a community that will benefit from an infusion of artists and other creatives. The redevelopment integrates residences, arts programming and transportation improvements to further uplift the Main Street Cultural Corridor.

The project is LEED equivalent as it followed the LEED standards through design and construction. The new construction portion of the development exceeded the code energy requirements by upwards of 25%. This was in large part due to the double walls used for architectural relief and increased insulation. Additionally, a high efficiency domestic hot water system nearly cut the load in half.

The adaptive reuse of an underperforming 1965 commercial building converts the property to housing that features 13-foot, exposed-concrete, waffle-slab ceilings as well as polished concrete floors. Restored ribbon windows wrap the building on all four sides providing ample natural light for resident artists. Ten new-construction townhomes activate Sycamore Street with front porches, the adjacent surface parking is transformed into a lush courtyard with orange grove bosque and children’s play area, while existing underground parking serves the building with access directly to the lobby. Original circular planters include heritage palm trees in the front plaza, preserved and integrated into the new design.

Ground-floor spaces include a gallery, art studios, dance studio, and two music rooms supported by a gallerist for artists and the neighborhood as well as other supportive services. Infrastructure improvements include a traffic-calming bulb-out at Sycamore and Seventeenth Street, new street trees, and a new bike boulevard on nearby Bush Street that connects the Arts Collective to downtown Santa Ana. On-site bicycle storage also includes a full bike kitchen. This adaptive reuse was able to lower embodied carbon by 78% and eliminate 25 million pounds from the waste stream.

The project increased the amount of landscape planter area by 150% over the existing condition. 27 new trees were planted on site along with 9 new street trees in the public right of way –helping to increase carbon sequestration, reduce the heat island effect, create a cohesive streetscape, add beauty, and support wildlife. The new shade trees reduce demand for mechanical cooling and allow residents comfortable places to gather outside. Plant materials were specifically chosen for their drought tolerance, reduced garden waste, and minimal maintenance. Native plant species, vegetable gardens, and a citrus grove attract birds and pollinator insects.

Meta Housing secured funding from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC). AHSC is one of California’s largest funding sources for affordable housing, and pairs affordable housing with high-quality transportation investments to foster healthy and well-connected communities.

Project Data

Landscape Architecture: Studio One Eleven

Year completed: 2019

Photo credits: Paul Turang

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