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Housing

L.A.’s Modest Solution to the ‘Missing Middle’ Housing Problem

The city’s Low-Rise design challenge asked architects to design affordable housing that NIMBYs and YIMBYs alike could live with. 

A “California Branch-style home” on a corner lot offers a model for multi-family housing that fits neatly into a neighborhood of low-rise single-family homes. 

A “California Branch-style home” on a corner lot offers a model for multi-family housing that fits neatly into a neighborhood of low-rise single-family homes. 

Rendering: Vonn Weisenberger

Practical ideas aren’t often the stuff of architecture contests. Right off the bat, that set Los Angeles’s Low-Rise design challenge apart.

A project led by the mayor’s office and the city’s chief design officer, Christopher Hawthorne, Low-Rise asked entrants to reimagine what an L.A. urban landscape with abundant housing could look like in the years to come. The organizers wanted the participating designers to think about their submissions the way they might approach a project for a local client or community. The results, which were unveiled this week, don’t look like future-forward science fiction, but rather doable local solutions to a thorny problem: the stubborn lack of affordable options across the city.