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DESIGN 2011 Merit Winner: Casitas on East Broadway, Tucson, Arizona

March 24, 2011
by Sandra Hoban, Executive Editor
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Tom McQuillen, AIA, LEED AP, Principal • Lizard Rock Designs, LLC

Congratulations to all Citation of Merit winners!

Casitas on East Broadway provides affordable, safe housing to low-income seniors who qualify for HUD low-rent subsidies. During its construction, tenants had already submitted their applications and, upon its completion in August 2010, it was immediately occupied, according to Tom McQuillen, AIA, LEED AP, and principal of Lizard Rock Designs, LLC. “This is a compliment to the Tucson Housing Foundation and the Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, who partnered with us on this project,” he says.

The historic Sam Hughes neighborhood, an area with a unique character, is located east of the University of Arizona. “It is an area of charming bungalows, where many professors live. Many of the area’s homes were built around the time the railroads were being established in Arizona,” says McQuillen. A number of these homes are wood-frame construction. “Since there aren’t a lot of trees in Arizona, the lumber arrived by rail,” he explains.

From a neighborhood perspective, there is a strong block culture. A typical home has a front porch and maybe a garage or one that’s been converted to a studio off of an alleyway. Casitas borders this neighborhood. “Shopping is very convenient and walkable for the Casitas residents,” says McQuillen.

As the building became occupied, the new residents of Casitas were welcomed into the greater community. “There is a Safeway [supermarket] within 200 yards of the building. Its manager is on the Casitas board and the store offers special promotions to encourage the residents to stop by,” McQuillen says. Businesses continue to establish ties with these senior apartment dwellers.
©2010 Cooperthwaite Photography

Safety is always a concern for seniors living on their own, but Casitas is staffed with two full-time employees from Catholic Community Services, and a live-in manager is in the works, so there will always be someone a resident can contact. The apartments are also well-lit from the abundance of natural daylight from either a corner or bay window.

Apartments are arranged around small courtyards that foster a sense of community. The various “neighborhoods” designed throughout the complex promote a sense of neighborliness between the Casitas residents. The main lobby also serves as an area of spontaneous socialization.

McQuillen credits the project’s location as a big plus in attaining its LEED Gold certification. “Points are awarded for how close a project is to shopping, transportation, and public parks.” Casitas on East Broadway was constructed on a lot previously occupied by a closed-down car dealership, which became an “attractive nuisance” in the neighborhood. With Casitas in its place, the neighborhood is now a positive, active asset to the community.

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Sandra Hoban

Managing Editor

Sandra Hoban

@SandiHoban

www.ltlmagazine.com

Sandra Hoban has been on Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of...