WEST END HEIGHTS
Ithaca, New York
Winner of 2022 NYS Excelsior Award of Merit
Winner of 2022 USGBC LEED for Homes Awards - Outstanding Affordable Project
Winner of 2023 AIA Rochester Design Excellence Award
Photos by Tim Wilkes Photography
In response to the need for safe, affordable housing in the City of Ithaca, NY, this new 60-unit mixed use apartment building is located on a ¾-acre site in the West End District, serving a mixed population of individuals. 22 of the units will be available to the general community with limited income, while the remaining 38 will house individuals who have experienced low/no income, homelessness, and/or are recovering from serious mental illness, substance use disorders or HIV/AIDS. The one-bedroom units provide those with special needs the opportunity to live in a supportive environment, near essential community services in an established, walkable neighborhood.
The 5-story L-shaped building is designed to maximize the tight urban site. This is accomplished by locating the building close to the street, with reduced surface parking in the rear. The building wraps a south-facing courtyard, strategically placed to connect with the light-filled Community Room. Therapeutic landscaping enhances the exterior spaces.
The main entrance addresses the street corner, with a terra cotta-hued tower. The cantilever provides shade and protection from the elements, with a natural wood plank soffit. Large windows wrap the corner in the apartment living rooms above. The red-orange banding activates the facades at different elevations. Tall transparent storefront glazing provides views into the main lobby. Ground-face masonry, and a charcoal-hued band wraps the perimeter, with mottled insulated aluminum panels above.
The all-electric HVAC systems with individual controls, highly insulated building envelope, and natural ventilation contribute to the building’s LEED for Homes Gold status, Energy Star certification, and Ithaca Green Building Policy compliance.
The building’s circulation is straightforward, with corridors running east-west, terminating at large windows on each end. This allows natural light to permeate the interior and provide views out to the street and to Cornell University’s campus on the hills beyond. Each floor has a central common lounge with transparent curtainwall cladding, contributing to the bright, welcoming interior. The apartments have high ceilings and open plans that enhance the feeling of comfort and spaciousness in modestly sized units. The color palate of the interior and exterior includes warm, natural hues to provide a therapeutic environment. Wayfinding is reinforced with supergraphics on each floor level near the main stair and elevator.