Step Up on Fifth
Pugh + Scarpa
A striking yet light-hearted exterior makes the new building a welcome landmark in downtown Santa Monica.
Custom water jet anodized aluminum panels on the main facade
creates a dramatic screen that sparkles in the sun and glows at
night, while also acting as sun protection and privacy screens. The
material reappears as a strategic arrangement of screens on east
and south-facing walls, lending a subtle rhythm to the exterior
circulation walkways and stairs.
South-facing walls filter direct sunlight with asymmetrical
horizontal openings that lend unexpected visual depth while
creating a sense of security for the emotionally sensitive
occupants. Enhancing the structure's geometric texture, the
irregular array of openings variably extrudes from the building's
The small-scale elements on the facade enhance the existing
streetscape and promote a lively pedestrian environment. By
visually breaking up the facade into smaller articulated elements,
the building appears to move with the passing cars and
At the second level above the retail space two private courtyards provide residents with a secure and welcoming surrounding while connecting directly to 5th street and downtown Santa Monica via a secured stairway integrated into the building storefront at street level.
Community rooms are located on every other floor of the project
overlooking the private courtyards protected from the street. These
community rooms along with the private courtyards serve as the
principal social spaces for the tenants of the building.
The planning and design of Step Up on 5th emerged from close consideration and employment of passive solar design strategies. These strategies include: locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads; shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds; shaping the building to induce buoyancy for natural ventilation; designing windows to maximize day lighting; shading south facing windows and minimizing west-facing glazing; designing windows to maximize natural ventilation; shaping and planning the interior to enhance daylight and natural air flow distribution. These passive strategies alone make this building 50% more efficient than a conventionally designed structure.
The new structure provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing. The project also includes ground level commercial/retail space and subterranean parking.
Facts about Step Up on Fifth
John Martin Associates
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing:
Last updated: December 17, 2012
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA