Rising in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles, the Skid Row Housing Trust’s Rainbow Apartments is a transformational project for the future of Los Angeles, a demonstration of the profound power of design for those who need it most.

The 88-unit complex, for which Wil Carson was a member of the design team at MMA, provides permanent supportive housing in the heart of Los Angeles’ Skid Row.  The building creates a new community for its residents, with integrated gathering, recreation, and gardening spaces, kitchens, as well as counseling and health services facilities within the building, providing a new safe, secure foundation for its residents. Completed in 2008, the project is a forerunner to subsequent projects designed for the Trust and others, proof that design can play a role for all members of society, not simply a cultured elite.

“In an age when so much architectural talent seems to serve the aspirations of a wealthy, cultured elite or to deliver a wow factor for arts tourists, the project is a refreshing rarity. Bold and communally minded, with flashes of genuine elegance, Skid Row Housing reassures you that a keen architectural intelligence and a social conscience are not necessarily at odds. In a better world, the projects would emerge as a model for a far-reaching architectural and social agenda.”


“The building is full of surprising energy inside. It aims to bring a sense of vitality to the complex despite its small budget and location near the epicenter of the city’s homeless crisis. A broad staircase points the way to the courtyard, and open-air corridors lead to five floors of apartments, all of which include windows on at least two sides.”



Design Team, MMA