Location:Sacramento, Calif.7th and H Midrise Award
Architect: Mogavero Notestine Associates
Developer: Mercy Housing California
Number of units: 150
Unit mix:Studios and one-bedrooms
Rents:$266 to $796

A once-forgotten street corner in Sacramento, ­Calif., today offers the promise of a new life for formerly homeless, special-needs individuals, thanks to 7th and H.

A sense of belonging and community for residents was paramount to the building’s design. Social interaction is encouraged via a common area on the second floor that spans the length of the building, segmented with glass walls that fold back to provide an entirely open social space. The inside and outside are married in this area, as light pours in through large terraces on the east and west ends of the building. Open, bright spaces accent each tenant floor, where a large balcony and double-height lounges visually connect to laundry rooms, encouraging conversation while people wait for their wash.

But this positive transformation didn’t come easily.

A 24/7 hum of light-rail lines and 16 stories of exercise spaces at the county jail boomed and loomed over the site, threatening to cast a literal and figurative shadow over 7th and H’s potential success.

Architecture firm Mogavero Notestine Associates encountered opposition from the jail’s operators while designing the project and also faced acoustical challenges posed by the building’s neighboring electrical substation.

The developer and architect toured the prison’s facilities to gain an understanding of the jail operators’ concerns about privacy for residents and inmates, and as a result, the team decided to move the entry and balconies to a different side of the building than originally planned. Working with an acoustical engineer, the architect also addressed sound-pollution concerns by creating a waterfall fountain on the west terrace, greeting residents who open their windows with rushing water sounds “akin to those in Yosemite.”

Mogavero Notestine fulfilled its mission of developing a community that would “house the whole person” by integrating a community clinic and social-services office into the mixed-use structure.