South Hills Retirement Residence

The renovation of the vacant South Hills High School was a complicated project involving multiple stakeholders and eight different funding streams. The project, a collaboration with Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, now houses 106 affordable and market rate apartments, and contains leasable commercial space.  

The biggest challenge was trying to get proper daylighting for all apartments. To accomplish this, the decayed and unsalvageable auditorium and shop wings were removed. This also created the opportunity to provide a clear and dramatic entrance to the building.

The sheer size of the original building presented another challenge. Paying attention to energy efficiency and minimizing future maintenance expense, the architects worked hard to create as many units as possible to support the public space.

A co-generation plant produces energy on site and feeds excess energy back into the power grid, while the heat exchanger provides 100% of the energy for domestic hot water, resulting in 32% less energy compared to an ASHRAE 90.1 baseline. A 26kW photovoltaic array on the roof adds energy back into the grid. The building incorporates many other energy saving features as well.

Using the concept of a boutique hotel, the interiors and selected furnishings were designed to be supportive of aging in place, while elevating the project well beyond the image of traditional affordable housing.

2012 Winner of the National Association of Home Builders 50+ Housing GOLD Award

Eco-Home Design Awards 2012

Platinum Award for Best American Living

Charles L. Edson Award for Green Housing    

2011 PCRG Award

ABC Associated Builders Award of Excellence 2010


  • 150,000 sq ft
  • Built  for $120 per sq ft
  • LEED Gold rating in the LEED for Homes Multi-Family Pilot
  • Produces 28,000 kWh electricity annually
  • Reclaimed the equivalent to 5 gallons of gasoline per sq ft in embodied energy by reusing the shell
  • EUI 57