Thompson + Pollari

Catherine Arms Apartments

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Catherine Arms - BeforeThe 28-unit Catherine Arms Apartments in downtown Phoenix represents a bold intervention to a 1950’s, 20-unit apartment building and provides affordable, transitional housing in an area experiencing revitalization. Saving the existing structure required new steel structural frames that isolate structural loads from the existing building and allow a totally energized set of building elevations. New building mass, supported over three quadrants of the existing two-story building and cantilevered over building setbacks on three sides, creates space for the new stairs and third level residential space. The project went through an intensive Variance process to handle parking requirements and setback encroachments. The overall impression left with the new construction is that of a energized contemporary urban building, respectful of its origins, but evocative of its’ new mission.

A very tight $2.4M budget added 30% more space and completely rehabilitated the rest. Every apartment has a different plan due to the need to work with existing structural grids and shell; apartments range from flats to 2-story units. All two-story units are entered from level 2, half with living spaces below and bedrooms above; the other half are reversed with living space at L3.



Key Design Concepts

  • Steel frame structure reduces existing live and dead loads and isolates new loading from existing building.
  • Structural masonry fin walls help isolate loads while enhancing separation from the street and reducing solar loads
  • “Cantilevered” stairs at L2/L3 allowed connection between levels with minimal intervention in existing structure; stairs provide additional shading for exterior facades
  • Internal focus on interior courtyard enhances security for residents and fosters socialization between occupants
  • 28- one bedroom apartments, all accessed from the courtyard
  • Community center and laundry
  • Stucco and metal panel facades