Situated in an area of downtown Los Angeles fast becoming one of the largest homeless populations in the country, Skid Row Housing’s 43,000sf Rainbow Apartments examines the role of creating a space of transformation within an extreme socioeconomic and urban context. As a dense 6-storey mass, Skid Row Housing is comprised of 88 transitional housing units with a series of communal spaces such as a dining area, communal kitchen, meeting rooms, outdoor gathering areas, and laundry facilities. In addition, the building incorporates offices and conference rooms on the ground floor to provide social services and workshops for tenants as part of their assistance in transitioning back into society.The project addresses how to counteract the insularity and hermetic nature of the residents’ daily lives amid concerns over safety and security by introducing openness and social spaces in an effort to enable their reintegration into public life. Arranged in a partially open U-shaped configuration, five floors of residential units cradle a central courtyard above a socle of parking and administrative functions on the ground floor. A chain of public spaces and exterior gathering areas are carved out or extruded from the mass to erode the building’s apparent solidity, creating varying depths of connection and views between the internal life of the courtyard and the world outside.