Palms Block

Palms Block

Acme architecture
Los Angeles, United States
Project Year


Palms Block

Acme architecture as Architects

The original Palms neighborhood development provided modest, dense, affordable housing on existing small lots, but at the expense of the greater urban environment: inadequate open space, abandoned streets dominated by parking, driveways and curb cuts, and internalized dwellings isolated from the public realm. The New Palms will meet our 21st century housing needs by creating ever higher densities and a more humane and sustainable city.

By significantly increasing densities with compact, cost effective, 3-story forms, the New Palms will create the economic incentives that spawned the original, but without the collateral urban damage. Ground floor parking garages and services are set at the rear of the lot, accessed from the alley, freeing the street frontage for door yard spaces, entries and dwellings to enliven the street. With transit and commercial amenities within easy walking distance, parking is provided at the rate of one compact space per unit. Additional parking may be provided with mechanical parking lifts & vertical tandem parking. Deleting driveways increases on-street parking.

Above, apartments are arranged around a central common open space made possible by re-thinking current setback requirements and employing efficient vertical circulation, thus forming a network of elevated urban courtyards. A physical and visual connection between dwellings and street eliminates the indifference toward the public realm, enhancing neighborhood security through visibility / observation.

Streets free of driveways now accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and landscape. A system of one-way streets provides the space for new bike lanes within the existing right-of-way. Uninterrupted sidewalks with pedestrian bulb-out crossings at corners and mid-block encourage walking. Parkways transform into continuous, planted bio-swales aiding storm water management. A program of street trees provides shade, reducing urban heat island effects. Vegetated front yards form drainage detention basins and create a transition space between public and private.

Varying combinations of simple, compact dwelling types suited to the neighborhood demographics result in a rich typology of the basic building configurations of mid-block, corner and double lot. The array of courtyards accommodate recreation, gathering and garden uses such as urban food production for residents. Like the original neighborhood buildings, the humble underlying structure becomes a generic armature ripe for a variety of architectural expression

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