Santa Monica Company Receives Multiple Affordable Housing Project Design Awards
From Nicole Borgenicht
Over the years Michael W. Folonis Architects has designed many affordable residential and senior citizen complexes on the Westside. The full-service Santa Monica architectural firm also partnered with UCLA to design pro bono for homeless students and worked with the Santa Monica-based nonprofit Community Corporation of Santa Monica to improve affordable living.
The company was founded in 1983 by Michael W. Folonis, who also lives in Santa Monica. As a member of the Architectural Review Board (former chairman) and a board member of the Santa Monica Conservancy, Folonis has often addressed the need for affordable housing. He is also currently a board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“I’m also a Vietnam vet and am currently partnering with organizations that address veteran homelessness,” Folonis said.
The company’s Millennium East Village project in Santa Monica is a series of modern buildings that blend smart architecture with affordable housing. It has been converted from an abandoned RV park to a community-oriented, five-story, mixed-use complex with 362 units and affordable housing.
Millennium East Village has recently won several design awards including a Westside Urban Forum Design Award, it was recognized as a Multi-Residential (50+) category at the AIA Residential Design Awards 2021, and a Multi-Family Winner at the 2021 AIA San Fernando Design Valley Awards.
Determined to improve people’s quality of life, the Millennium East Village’s design structures enhance natural light and ventilation in every area.
“For Millennium East Village, we wanted something more community and neighborhood oriented than a monolithic box that is a simple and uninspired housing solution,” said Folonis. “Our company created four interlocking elements to make the 362-unit complex more open, accessible and inviting – for residents and the neighborhood.”
The multi-complex design uses solar energy for outdoor spaces, and inward-facing windows are solar-oriented and LEED certified with increased energy efficiency coming.
The ground floor is designed for retail stores such as cafes, grocery stores and dry cleaners. Other amenities available to residents include a pool, clubhouse, gym, communal gardens, BBQ areas, and outdoor play areas for children.
Millennium East Village supports three levels of a new wave of development. Tenants looking for affordable housing are one tier, retail businesses wanting an integrated clientele without being zoned are tier two, and landlords seeking reliable tenants are tier three. In addition, improving the neighborhood through safe and affordable housing and public spaces that attract new customers improves the quality of life for everyone.
“As more people work from home and the demand for commercial office space theoretically falls, commercial real estate repurposing could be a solution to increasing affordable housing in the LA area,” said Folonis.
Michael W. Folonis Architects
1524 Cloverfield Blvd., Santa Monica