Completed earlier this year to much fanfare in West Hollywood, Calif., Sierra Bonita
is a mixed-used affordable housing complex that heavily depends on something that a devastatingly drenched
Southern California desperately needs right now: clear skies and lots of sunshine.
The $20.3 million project designed by Tighe Architecture
and developed by the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation
(Sierra Bonita is the pilot project for WeHo’s Green Building Ordinance
) is a striking five-story structure on bustling Santa Monica Boulevard that boasts solar “strips” integrated into the building’s façade and roof. The solar arrays heat the building’s hot water supply while powering the building's common areas during peak hours. Any unused solar electricity is returned to the grid.
Aside from the solar systems, Sierra Bonita also features a cooling bamboo forest of sorts within the building’s inner courtyard. Additionally, each 620 square-foot one-bedroom unit comes complete with energy-efficient appliances, high-speed Internet, natural lighting, efficient AC units, and design features geared for disabled residents. The West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation has offices on the ground level of the building, which is designated for nonprofit commercial use.
Sierra Bonita is a remarkable — and increasingly common — case of the intersection of stylish green design and affordable housing. Here’s hoping that things return to normal in the L.A. area soon and that those solar panels are able to go back to what they do best: capturing sunlight and not deflecting rainwater.