Santa Ana Arts Collective
Santa Ana, CA
Mid-Century Office Building Restored as Affordable Family Housing for Artists
Project Details


Santa Ana, CA

Practice Theme

Housing for All, Building Community + Place

What We Did

Architecture, Landscape


115,077 sq. ft.
The first project redeveloped under Santa Ana’s new adaptive reuse ordinance, Santa Ana Arts Collective (SAAC) repurposed a 1965 international style office building into 100% affordable, studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom live-work lofts.

The project adds 10 new affordable two- and three-bedroom townhomes. Walkable to Santa Ana’s arts institutions, the redevelopment at 1666 N. Main Street includes art studio spaces, a dance studio, art gallery, two music studios and other arts-focused amenities for both residents and the public.

The project supports the City’s mission of developing Main Street into an arts corridor, bringing exceptionally high-quality affordable homes to a community that will benefit from an infusion of artists and other creatives. The redevelopment integrates residences, arts programming and transportation improvements to further uplift the Main Street Cultural Corridor.



The project is LEED equivalent as it followed the LEED standards through design and construction. The new construction portion of the development exceeded the code energy requirements by upwards of 25%. This was in large part due to the double walls used for architectural relief and increased insulation. Additionally, a high efficiency domestic hot water system nearly cut the load in half.

The adaptive reuse of an underperforming 1965 commercial building converts the property to housing that features 13-foot, exposed-concrete, waffle-slab ceilings as well as polished concrete floors. Restored ribbon windows wrap the building on all four sides providing ample natural light for resident artists. Ten new-construction townhomes activate Sycamore Street with front porches, the adjacent surface parking is transformed into a lush courtyard with orange grove bosque and children’s play area, while existing underground parking serves the building with access directly to the lobby. Original circular planters include heritage palm trees in the front plaza, preserved and integrated into the new design.

Ground-floor arts spaces include a gallery, art studio space, a dance studio, two music rooms and other amenities supporting artists and the neighborhood. Meta Housing will provide onsite services.
Infrastructure improvements include a traffic-calming bulb-out at Sycamore and Seventeenth Street and a new bike boulevard on nearby Bush Street that connects the Arts Collective to downtown Santa Ana. On-site bicycle storage joins these improvements.

Meta Housing secured funding from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC). AHSC is one of California’s largest funding sources for affordable housing, and pairs affordable housing with high-quality transportation investments to foster healthy and well-connected communities.

“The architects took a middling-’60s office building, kept it, repurposed it, and augmented it with these townhouses: it’s very smart. The decision to reuse rather than demolish is admirable. The well-designed townhomes create a nice courtyard.” AIA CA Jury 


AIA CA Residential Honor Award


AIA OC Honor Award

AIA Long Beach | South Bay Honor Award


SCDF, Honor Award

SCANPH, Homes withing Reach Development of the Year

Affordable Housing for Artists Completed in Santa Ana

Affordable family housing for artists opens in restored Santa Ana mid-century building

Affordable Housing for Artists in Restored Mid-Century Building

Clean Air: The Next Luxury Apartment Perk

How Adaptive Reuse Can Help Solve the Housing Crisis

Adapting Offices to Housing: Affordable, Market-Rate, and Luxury

Affordable Housing Projects Recognized at the 2021 Gold Nugget

How a drab 1960s office building was repurposed

Real estate news: Santa Ana Arts Collective, 58 affordable live-work lofts, debia

Creating an Affordable Community

How Art May Alter the Face of Dementia

Adaptive Reuse Challenges and Opportunities in California

Mid-Century Building Reborn as Santa Ana Arts Collective

Case Studies on Housing Innovation

The State of Housing Design
Author: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

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