A nearly $9 million Barrio Logan apartment complex is drawing kudos for its distinctive design, marked by striking colors along the façades.
Designed by Kate Meairs and Hector Perez, Los Patios, with 50 loft apartments and ground-floor commercial space, won an Orchid Award earlier this year from the San Diego Architectural Foundation.
Perez said that the design for the four-story Los Patios with its large central courtyard was inspired in part by the buildings he saw as a child in Mexico – vecindades that he said were a kind of tenement building with apartments encircling a central patio.
“I grew up in a housing project like that, with a central courtyard that is shared with all the residents, and access to the units is always around the courtyard,” Perez said.
Jurors in the Orchids and Onions award competition praised Los Patio for its “exciting, pleasing colors.”
“It makes the most out of what it does,” competition jurors wrote. “The courtyard feels incredibly inviting (and) was well done,” they wrote, adding that “it felt culturally appropriate” with the courtyard reflecting on the colonial period of Mexico and South and Central America.
Color is a critical part of the design of Los Patios, with the exterior walls and the railings of apartment balconies in an array of differing colors – red, orange, green, blue, and pink against a white building background.
“I’ve always loved color,” Perez said.
On one side of the building, balcony colors gradually shift from light to dark orange, mimicking the path of the sun.
The interior walls of the apartments are white, so that during the day when sunlight is reflected off the balcony walls, “It creates an interesting effect,” Perez said. “It’s magical.”
Having different colors on each of the balcony walls “gives you an extra sense of space” so the apartments are differentiated by more than a number, Perez said.
Meairs said that when the apartments were being leased, prospective tenants sometimes picked the apartments they wanted based on the colors of the balconies.
“It’s like, pick your flavor,” Perez said.
Meairs and Perez said that the colorful façade is also a nod to the history of the site, which at one time was used for an ice cream factory.
Besides presenting a colorful face to the surrounding neighborhood, the recessed balconies help break up the visual mass of the building, so it doesn’t look like a big square block.
Design Adjusted for Code Changes
Los Patios uses what Meairs and Perez said was a “passive design strategy by pairing each loft with a patio or balcony and operable windows to create cross ventilation. Floor-to-ceiling glass admits natural light.
Perez and Meairs said that Los Patios was built by Alexander Alemany on what had been a vacant lot for many years.
The original plan was to use the site for a rowhome project that was scrapped during the Great Recession of 2008, according to Meairs and Perez.
City codes changed during construction of Los Patios to allow for little or no parking in projects near trolley stations or bus stops, so Meairs and Perez adjusted their design for Los Patios to go from 42 to 50 apartments, adding eight apartments on what had been a parking area for residents.
The loft apartments range from 350 square feet to 800 square feet.
Perez said that the ground floor commercial space, which is still under construction, has been leased for a new location of Café Madeleine and a seafood restaurant.
Los Patios is the second project that Perez has designed in Barrio Logan.
“Working in Barrio Logan is always seen as something challenging, because for a long time the word barrio has been associated with ghetto or had a negative connotation, when in fact, the word barrio just means neighborhood,” Perez said. “We’re excited to build there.”
Perez + Meairs Architecture Design and Development
Headquarters: La Jolla, CA
Partners: Hector Perez and Kate Meairs
Business: architecture and development
Notable: The design philosophy of Hector Perez and Kate Meairs is that buildings are foremost about people and that their role as architects and designers is to deliver nimble creative design solutions for people to thrive in.