Something For Everyone
Homes of the Year: By Thomas Shess Photography by David Harrison
Something For Everyone
ARCHITECT LLOYD RUSSELL IS ON A ROLL. He’s a bit older than back in the day when he was AIA’s 1997 Young Architect of the Year, but he hasn’t lost the knack for producing award-winning projects. His most recent project, the year-old, Centre Street Lofts, has captured one of this magazine’s 2012 Homes of the Year (HOY) awards for residential design excellence.
Sited in Hillcrest between Robinson and University Avenue, Centre Street Lofts also scooped away a 2011 Orchid for architecture at San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids and Onions banquet last fall. Russell’s streak of awards comes on the heels of an Orchid in 2010 for The Station, his vaunted restaurant project in South Park.
What captured the eye of 2012 HOY judges was Russell’s innovative use of space throughout the 25-unit, multi-level, two-building apartment project, plus, according to City of San Diego’s cost-per-square-foot standards, the lofts qualify as affordable housing.
What raised the eyes of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles’ editors was the fact no rental property ever captured Homes of the Year honors in the 33-year history of this magazine.
Juried design contest winners almost always have significant “wow” factors that keyed victory. Judge/designer Lisa Wilson-Wirth praised the fact that each Centre Street Lofts unit is given its own personality.
“All have a unique floor plan and all but one have access to outdoor living space,” she says. “Even the smallest studio has an outdoor area equal to its interior square footage. Density was achieved without sacrificing privacy.”
Added HOY judge Kent Prater, “The density does not seem apparent from the street view. Some unexpected elements like the oversized pivoting windows and roll-up garage doors in the living space add playfulness not usually seen in an apartment development.”
HOY judge Ted Smith says, “Apartments rarely reach for or achieve special grace and these lofts really do. I like the way the rooms are tall at 15 feet and how they most all open to nice terraces. The big sliding pocket doors are a good use of a typically tight apartment budget, opening up and expanding the light-filled urban spaces.”
Lloyd Russell has been a practicing architect since 1997. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after spending a year abroad in Copenhagen. His style of architecture evolved from handcrafting simple details in a sophisticated manner that he calls “handmade modernism.” He admires the work of other design/build architects like Ted Smith and Jonathan Segal, to name a few.
Russell, who teaches architecture at the San Diego campus of Woodbury College, also is a student of the game. He knows what building projects will succeed in San Diego. He knew before he conceived the Centre Street project that the condo market in town was softer than a tater tot, but affordable rental units in prime locations were, and continue to be, scarce.