Cascadia Village Apartments looks more like a mountain lodge resort than a typical traditional apartment complex. The 51-unit property in Vancouver, Wash., features green and dark tan exteriors accentuated by wooden planks and triangular roofs. Lush trees in the background give the rental property an even more woodsy appearance.

But what makes Cascadia unique isn't simply its outside elements, but rather its interior offerings that make it suitable for residents of all ages and mobility levels. The Affordable Community Environments Community Development Corp., a Vancouver-based nonprofit developer of sustainable, affordable housing, is known for developing resident-centered, pedestrian-friendly housing with services that facilitate community interaction and personal success. Its goal in building Cascadia Village, using designs from Portland, Ore.-based Carlton Hart Architecture, was to craft a space that residents will enjoy and create a sense of community through design.

The property's interior features include lever handles rather than knobs on all doors, lower-set living room and bedroom windows for visual access for children and persons using wheelchairs, extra-wide doorways and hallways in all ground-floor units, roll-in and step-in showers, ground-floor bathrooms that are oversized to accommodate a wheelchair user, and vinyl or hardwood floors in all ground floor units.

The project also boasts energy-saving elements including whole-house ventilation systems for improved air quality, high-efficiency gas water heaters, and hardi-plank cementitious siding.

Cascadia comprises nine two- and three- story buildings situated around two landscaped courtyards, each with play structures, bike racks, and seating. Each unit has a ground-level porch facing the courtyards, while upper-floor homes also feature spacious front porches and back decks with storage space.

The project was completed in November 2003 at a cost of $3.8 million. The property won a 2004 Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders & Contractors Association and a 2004 Clark County ( Wash.) Community Pride Design Award.

NORTHWEST ESCAPE: Cascadia Village offers energy-efficient living for residents of all mobility levels.
NORTHWEST ESCAPE: Cascadia Village offers energy-efficient living for residents of all mobility levels.