Manhatten Place, 3663 9th Street, Los Angeles, USA


Theodore and Soo Ng Architect

John V. Mutlow, Los Angeles Design Team

Brian Emmerson, John Neel, Don Dimster

Structural Engineer

Jitu Mehta & Associates, Los


Subject | Timber-frame construction has a long tradition in the USA; 90% of all buildings, in particular residential accommodation, are built using this method. Only buildings exceeding four storeys must use non-combustible materials for the loadbearing elements, and steel or reinforced concrete structures dominate in that sector. Masonry structures are more prevalent in the eastern part of the USA, with its stronger ties to Europe. However, timber construction techniques have reached a high level of rationalization and standardization in the USA, which has led to simpler forms of construction and easier approval procedures.

Los Angeles offers a very good example of this. The citys Building Department has published calculations for the spans of beams, rafters, etc. for various loading cases as well as construction details, all of which are mandatory for developers wishing to build in the city. These strict specifications enable an architect to design a house without having to consult a structural engineer. Furthermore, the General Contractor approval procedure is made considerably easier. Incidentally, since the last earthquake the provisions have been revised, in September 1995, so that they now only apply to single-storey structures.

The architect John V. Mutlow has for many years been designing housing for senior citizens on a low income. Such projects are financed by the various private and semi-official bodies involved in helping this often neglected social group. Such buildings must be as cost-effective as possible but still create a feeling of home. Mutlow s designs take maximum advantage of the standard design specifications, and the housing units are standardized to a great extent. This allows the communal rooms, internal courtyards and other special facilities to be incorporated at a favourable price -"extras" which, however, are indispensable if the occupants are to enjoy an acceptable standard of living. Small differences, e.g. in the design of the balconies, give the apartments an individual character despite the standardization.

Alpha Construction, Los Angeles

Date of Completion

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