Project Type: Restorative Reinvestment infrastructure and Specialized Housing for multi-generational families and communities, families and individuals experiencing homelessness, and for transition-aged youth (TAY)
Client: Liberty Community Land Trust, a Black-owned land trust giving Los Angeles communities the power to control land and development, offering long-term retention through permanent affordability.
Developer: Venice Community Housing, a non-profit supporting and building equitable and inclusive communities by providing affordable housing with supportive services, education, employment programs, and public policy advocacy that advances racial and economic justice.
Designing Justice + Designing Spaces Team: Maurice Robb (Project Architect/Project Manager), Tola Thomas (Architectural Associate), Uzoma Idah (Architectural Associate), Brandi Mack (Director of Community Engagement), Allison Wong (Community Engagement Manager)
Nourishing the development of a Black ecosystem
4345 Crenshaw Blvd. is an affordable housing development in the heart of Leimert Park, an epicenter of Black arts and culture in Los Angeles. Designing Justice + Designing Spaces has been retained by Liberty Community Land Trust – a Black-owned land trust with the mission of creating neighborhood stability, environmental sustainability and community-friendly capital – to design 56 residential units, flexible resident spaces, ground floor community spaces, and ground floor retail. The building will be a multi-story property intended for families, youth, and members of the community experiencing homelessness, as well as for transitional-aged youth leaving the foster care system. The project will be constructed at the site of the former historic Total Experience – a beloved and legendary night club that from 1972 to 1990 booked major R&B, funk, and soul acts.
Engaging community for inclusive development
To help Liberty Ecosystem build healthy and sustainable neighborhoods with autonomy over their resources, Designing Justice + Designing Spaces directly confronts the traditional real estate development process with a robust and immersive community engagement process that integrates the vision and needs of the community into the project. After a year-long community engagement process of bridging the information gap about the affordable building process and identifying needs for programming, affordability, and more, Designing Justice + Designing Spaces has produced a dynamic concept for the building that honors the space’s history as much as it ignites radical imagination for the future.
Honoring The Total Experience
4345 Crenshaw Blvd. is the former home of The Total Experience, a music studio and night club of significant historical relevance. With the vision of cementing Black joy into the architecture of Crenshaw, the design team of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces took inspiration from the musical roots of the neighborhood and the site. Music informed much of the design, from the mirrored angles that ripple from the building’s epicenter on the front façade, to the visual representation of vibrations and frequency in the waves of the roof line. Los Angeles, local art, fashion and musical instruments will continue to play an integral part in the design of the building.
A front porch view of Leimert Park
This building is a holistic affordable housing development that integrates robust plans to include public space. The public entry staircase not only looks onto Crenshaw Blvd. and onto Leimert Park, but is intended as an extension of the community space that is green, beautiful, and inclusive. The design for the building mirrors the surrounding community: unapologetically Black, culturally relevant, and expressive.