Riverwalk comprises fifty apartments in five buildings, carefully arranged along opposing banks of a small seasonal creek. This affordable family housing development makes the most of an extremely challenging site while addressing the fears of nervous neighbors. The site was severely encumbered by major utility easements and setbacks; early on, the design team joked about the challenge being akin to building a ship in a bottle.
The creek—previously a trash-filled eyesore—was cleaned out, re-vegetated with native species, and re-purposed as a part of a linked community open space and walking trail. To reduce bulk and to create an appearance more sympathetic to nearby single family homes, Riverwalk's buildings were sculpted with dormers, bays, and balconies. Broad roof overhangs, timber trellises, and horizontal lapped siding further contribute a familiar domesticity to the development. A 1,800-square-foot Commons building sits at the center of the complex, overlooking the creek. Its roof hosts a photovoltaic array that offsets site lighting demands; its interior houses a meeting room and lounge, a kitchen, and a computer area for residents. Riverwalk serves as a case study in doing a lot with a little.
Ruby Award for Best Affordable Housing Project Under 50 Units from San Diego Housing Federation