Mayor Garcetti announces winners of low-rise housing challenge


Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced the winners of Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles, an international, first-of-its-kind design challenge to produce appealing, accessible visions of new housing options to boost the City’s housing stock in areas zoned for single-family housing and low-rise apartments. 

“Angelenos want a more livable city with more affordable housing, more opportunity, and more accessible transportation options no matter where they live,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This challenge was designed to inspire creative ideas that might reimagine the future of housing in Los Angeles — and the results brought forward an extraordinary range of solutions to build affordable homes that are closer to jobs and transit.”

The 12 winning entries, responding to a brief shaped by a series of community-engagement listening sessions last year, were selected from 380 submissions by a jury of leading architects and experts in urban planning and affordable housing. Each of the top designs will receive a cash award, with the four first-place winners getting $10,000, second-place winners $3,500, and third-place winners $1,500. 

Together, the designs offer a compelling, achievable vision for how Los Angeles can add more housing in single-family and low-rise neighborhoods — areas that make up more than 80 percent of residential land in the city. At the same time, the entries offer new paths to homeownership, protect against displacement, and take measurable steps to reverse the damaging environmental impact of sprawl.

The winning ideas include: building new duplexes lining a network of revitalized “green alleys” in Northeast Los Angeles; reintroducing corner stores to residential neighborhoods, where they were once a common sight, to build community cohesion, support local merchants, and reduce car use; and designing apartments so they can be easily reconfigured as families grow and shrink over time, supporting multigenerational households while easing overcrowding.

“For too long, the discussion in Los Angeles about the future of single-family and other low-rise neighborhoods has been reactive to proposals from outside L.A. rather than being specific and organic to our own neighborhoods,” said Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, who organized the Low-Rise initiative with colleagues in the Mayor’s Office. “Low-Rise offers a way to reorient that discussion so that it reflects the aspirations of Angelenos — and looks back to L.A’s rich history of innovation in residential architecture at precisely this scale.”

Winners were selected in each of the following categories: 

  • Fourplex, which imagines four units on a lot covering 7,500 square feet; 

  • Subdivision, a freestanding duplex on a 50-foot-by-50-foot parcel; 

  • Corners, with six to ten units spread across two newly combined residential parcels; 

  • (Re)Distribution, which asked entrants to reimagine famous single-family houses, by architects including Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright and R.M. Schindler, as fourplexes. 

Of the designs to win cash awards, six were submitted by teams based in Los Angeles, with a seventh from Orange County. The remaining winning teams include two from New York City, two from the United Kingdom, and one from Austin, Texas. A joint team from the Los Angeles architecture firm Omgivning and the Los Angeles landscape architecture office Studio-MLA was the only participant to win awards in two categories, taking first place in the Fourplex category and second place for a separate entry in Subdivision. Another 23 entries received Honorable Mentions.

Each category was evaluated separately by its own seven-member jury. The winning entries can be viewed at the Low-Rise website, The designs will be collected in a forthcoming publication edited by Hawthorne and featuring newly commissioned essays and interviews.

Support for Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles was provided by the James Irvine Foundation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Citi, and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Other partners include the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and the Los Angeles chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council. The challenge is part of a larger research effort into new paths to homeownership and affordability led by the Mayor’s Office in collaboration with the Urban Institute and other partners.

A fact sheet will the names of the winning teams and other details can be found here, with downloadable renderings here.


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