Fast Forward/Designing the Future of Palm Springs, a series of architectural discussions led by award winning and nationally known architects and designers, kicks off February 1st as part of the acclaimed Palm Springs Modernism Week. The virtual program is produced by the Palm Springs Architectural Alliance. One of the featured presenters is Maria Song (AIA LEED AP), a partner at Palm Springs based Interactive Design Corporation (IDC) whose portfolio includes award winning concepts for affordable housing initiatives, initiatives for which both Ms. Song and her partner Reuel Young have a strong and enduring commitment. Ms. Song is presenting her firm’s designs and her insights into how beautifully affordable housing blends into existing communities and will focus on their work in creating designs for CHOC’s Monarch Apartment Homes in Palm Springs. This discussion on affordable housing is thought to be a breakthrough and the first time the affordable housing topic includes such a comprehensive overview of architectural design and renderings for a signature event like Modernism Week.
It is her work on affordable housing that drew the attention of Alliance co-founder Debra Hovel. “From watching and working with Maria, her enthusiastic embrace of this idea for an inclusive community is one reason we wanted her in our program,” says Ms. Hovel. “We advocate for high design in housing for low-income families and individuals and Maria has done that, has proven that it can work. Her excellence of design, from choice of materials to layout of the property and parking and her sense of justice for all people in the design of architecture is key to her success.”
This sense of what it takes to create a viable, economically integrated community is what also drew the leadership of the Community Housing Opportunities Corporation (CHOC), a non-profit developer of affordable housing, to choose IDC as the architect for The Monarch Apartment Homes in Palm Springs. The stunningly conceived design, crafted to blend with iconic Wexler midcentury modern homes in the neighborhood, is a multifamily affordable housing development for working families and individuals. One of the goals of CHOC’s initiative is to demonstrate that beautifully designed, affordable housing blends into any neighborhood, even upper income enclaves.
“We are proud of Maria’s participation in this unique Modernism Week event,” says Vincent Nicholas, Vice President of Real Estate Development for CHOC. “This is an important opportunity for the design community to learn how they can embrace architectural designs that showcase their communities while demonstrating concerted efforts to build economically integrated housing. Affordable housing is the most basic way to stabilize working families and every community should strive to support these efforts.”
Ms. Song is one of seven presenters at the Fast Forward/Designing for the Future of Palm Springs, which is available via Modernism Week online.
“This important conference brings together an impressive array of architects, designers, educators, community members, and preservationists to discuss the future of architecture and urban planning in the greater Palm Springs area. We are excited to hear what Maria Song will discuss regarding the architecture and design of low-income housing projects,” says Lisa Vossler Smith, Executive Director for Modernism Week.
Ms. Song left Korea for Argentina when she was a small child. The family then emigrated to California when she started high school. Her life experience shaped her commitment to equal opportunity and informs her commitment to affordable housing. “It is the great equalizer,” she says. “When people are living paycheck to paycheck, when one small incident, like having your car break down, leaves you homeless, we know how economically fragile life is for too many.”
“I have been lucky to be able to create homes for those most at risk,” says Ms. Song. “My goal is to share the positive joys that come from this work, like the work CHOC gave me to create The Monarch Apartment Homes. It is CHOC’s diligence to detail, including critical sensitivity to the community, that informed every aspect of The Monarch’s design. As part of their team, I want the audience to understand there is nothing cheap about affordable housing. These complex development deals result in highly financed, high performing, beautifully designed structures. What is affordable is the rent, not the materials used or the landscaping or the standards and goals that must be met to achieve this much needed housing. The result is always a building that any community is proud to include as part of its fabric, a building that adds vibrancy and viability for a long time.”
Founded in 1984, CHOC, a non-profit, affordable housing developer based in Fairfield, California,
with offices in Palm Springs, works to create equitable communities for individuals, families, seniors and for those with special needs. CHOC believes that affordable housing is key to self-sufficiency and is achievable with enriching, supportive programs that give pride to residents, stabilize families and improve local economies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Sydney Weisman, SWPR (323-804-3102), firstname.lastname@example.org