Panama Apartments


403 E. Fifth St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
$12 Million
219 to 72 Units
Owner: SRO Housing Corporation
Architect: Carrier Johnson + Culture Architects
Estimated Completion:


Project Description

The project is a complete renovation of the existing Panama Hotel located in the Skid Row district of downtown Los Angeles. With the renovation, there will be no change in use, but more a change in the size of the individual resident units that are provided. The existing small cramped sleeping rooms will be converted to micro studio units which will include living space, a bathroom, a small kitchenette and a closet. The goal of this project is to provide a safe, comfortable, and sustainable environment for the people who will live and work there while respecting the historic character of the existing structure.

To achieve this, the renovation effort is twofold; One – to restore and replicate features of the building’s brick envelope that are in disrepair. Two – to remove the interior system of floors, walls, roof and provide a new structure within the existing envelope that improves the acoustic, thermal, and structural performance of the building to the level of today’s standards.

The Panama hotel currently has 219 boarding room type units comprised of a single room with sink, bed, dresser, and table with shared bathroom facilities located off the hallways. This will be converted to 72 units which will include individual bathrooms, small kitchenettes and a closet within the rooms themselves. Furnishings will also be provided including a bed, night stand, dresser, table, and two chairs. This conversion will more adequately provide for the needs of the occupants and better create a sense of home by allowing them to bath and cook meals in the privacy of their own space.

The existing interior walls that make up the rooms are bearing, and converting to the new unit type requires removing the existing walls, floors, and roof. This also allows the buildings structural and MEP systems to be updated and facilitates providing accessibility.