In a way that artists can help aesthetically change and reinvigorate a community, the experimental idea values the impact and resource artists serve in revitalizing communities. 21 Soledad is a mixed-use, four-story affordable housing project that incorporates ground floor commercial, retail and artist spaces which provide art studios and a community room to host art exhibitions.
For MidPen, who has experience in combining commercial and residential uses in a large portfolio of affordable housing communities, the concept of artist spaces was new for them. Engaging local growing interest and reaching out to artists, universities, and non-profits in Salinas and the immediate region, MidPen sought applications for the artist studios weighing them against their connection to Salinas and their contribution to revitalizing historic Chinatown.
Project symbolism played a heavy role in the architectural detail and design character of the building. Drawing upon Asian influences including the moon gate, Chinese lattice patterns, calligraphy, and iconic visual elements and materials like bamboo, were incorporated with a contemporary aesthetic into the details, trims and finishes of entry gates, balcony railings, entrance plaza pavers, and parking garage screens. Key pedestrian-scaled walls along the building, were also identified for large-format metal panels displaying historic photographs of Chinatown, as a nod to its past.