Low-Rise Design Lab

Initiated in 2023 to foster creative housing solutions for Los Angeles, the Low-Rise Design Lab will undertake a multi-year effort to develop a public resource guidebook and standard plans for new multi-unit housing options, and examine financing models with the aim of making low-rise design attainable for Angelenos. The work program is intended to promote new infill housing opportunities that allow for residents to continue to afford the cost of homeownership and remove barriers for new homeownership that exist today.

A type of “missing middle” housing, low-rise infill development can take the form of duplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts, townhomes, and rowhouses. These housing types, called low-rise because they are typically two-and-a-half stories or below, are the least expensive housing on a per-unit basis and they hold the promise of bending the affordability curve more effectively than other new residential projects. Importantly, infill housing at this scale may offer more agency for current residents to stay rooted in their communities and resist displacement pressures, by making housing costs more affordable and allowing inter-generational families to live together and support one another.

Given our current climate crisis, Los Angeles needs to redouble its efforts to build housing more sustainably—an issue that has become increasingly apparent because the City has run out of land to accommodate its population solely through single-family homes. In Los Angeles’s low-rise neighborhoods, the Department is partnering with internal and external stakeholders to pursue new models of residential architecture, resulting in high quality design low-rise housing reflective of diverse neighborhoods and development patterns across the city.

The Low-Rise Design Lab will explore the development of low-rise design pre-approved standard plans , assess the necessity of local code amendments to reflect state law and best practices, and provide a user-friendly guide illustrating options for for Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) duplex, triplex, fourplex, and bungalow court residential development in a variety of lot conditions and configurations based upon local existing conditions. The program will involve stakeholders in crafting solutions to ensure that low rise housing will reflect the latest research and offer citywide solutions that are economically viable, ecologically sound, and leave a lasting legacy of thoughtful low-rise design tailored to community needs.

Please check back here for project updates throughout 2024.

Web Banner Image by Charles Young.