architecture blog

Modative Architecture Impacts Culver City Arts District

Posted by Krystal Navar on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 @ 06:10 AM

In our last post on the Roberts Avenue Residence, we took you through the schematic design process -- at least how our office goes about it.  If you remember, the client picked Scheme A, which consisted of a series of shifting bedroom boxes on the ground floor, visibly and audibly sheltered from the neighboring park. The living level and guest bedroom were located on the upper floor, taking full advantage of the views over the park and beyond to Baldwin Hills.

 

Los Angeles Residential Architect 

To refresh your memory, here’s an image of Scheme A during Schematic Design. 

 

You will see that the driving concept remains in the final design: quiet, spa-like spaces on the ground floor and open, airy spaces on the second floor. Although, there have been some adjustments. For instance, the guest bedroom and the master bedroom swapped locations. The client felt that the master bedroom, with it’s own private balcony on the second floor, would better benefit from the views. The bedroom volumes also shifted to alleviate the need for excessive steel structure to support unnecessary cantilevers. 

Los Angeles Residential Architect Floor Plan 

First Floor Plan


Culver City Residential Architect Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan


Culver City Modern Architect

Rendering

 

Los Angeles Modern Architect

Rendering 

 

We have submitted for permits and are now waiting to receive comments back from the City. Once that happens, and we make the necessary corrections, bidding begins. Construction is expected to start by January 2012. Look for more updates to come with photos of the construction process.  

But, before we part, this is the perfect time to introduce our next project. As many of you know, a happy client on one project can lead to a happy repeat client on a new project. Our client on the Roberts Avenue Residence recently purchased a property on Fay Avenue -- a mere 0.2 miles from our office -- on which he wants to build 4 small-lot homes. This property is in Los Angeles, so it can take advantage of Los Angeles’s Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance. I know! What a great fit for Modative! (If you’re not familiar with the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance in Los Angeles, click on the link and read up! It’s pretty cool (and, really, my only hope for brand-new home ownership in LA.) 

Small Lot Subdivision Architect

Fay Triangle Site Plan


Small Lot Subdivision Project 

Photo of Fay Triangle site taken from adjacent building


We are excited about this new project for two main reasons. First, we have been eyeing this triangle-shaped property for the entire five years our office has been in the area, long before it was even up for sale. (I was hoping it would somehow be left to me in someone’s will, but that would have been highly unlikely.) Second, this property is only four properties down from our Fay 2x Homes project. To have so many projects located within a mile radius of one another (in our own neighborhood, nonetheless!) has been really special. We have the rare opportunity to inject this area with thoughtful, modern design. (Check out our other projects in the area: Cullen St. Homes, Fay 2x Homes, Roberts Avenue Residence, Venice Urban Dwellings.) Stay tuned for updates on this new project we’re calling Fay Triangle


Culver City Arts District Project Map

Map of Modative projects in our neighborhood

Post by Krystal Návar. Contributors to this post include Christian Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, Architecture portfolio, Housing, real estate, los angeles architects, culver city

A Los Angeles Architecture Firm's Design Process

Posted by Krystal Navar on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:06 AM

Different architecture firms approach the design process in different ways. Here at Modative, we are beyond thorough. Recently, we began working on a new single-family residence in Culver City, CA, a stone's throw from our office. We thought it would be fun to take you through Modative's design process, using this new project, Roberts Avenue, as the example. So, here it goes.  

Before pen ever meets paper, we undergo a thorough site analysis. Many firms skip right on by this, what we feel to be, the crucial first step of the design process. We believe that the site should influence the design. Our site analysis covers topics such as physical site conditions, prevailing winds, street grids, circulation to and from the site, views in and views out, noise, and neighborhood character.

Site Analysis Diagram

3 diagrams showing views, noise, and pedestrian access

Residential Site Views

View north on Roberts Avenue

Residential Site Views

View from what will be the second floor of the new house

Architecture Neighborhood Character

A few interesting modern homes in the neighborhood

We keep the client involved in every step of the process, so once we've hashed through the site analysis, we present the information we've gathered to the client. We figure that if the client is with you through these initial steps, once you get into the schematic design phase, the sketches you show him/her will not seem to have come out of nowhere. Most importantly, the decisions you are making will not seem arbitrary -- they will be rooted in your initial site and precedent studies. Both you and the client will be able to reference back to this gathered information as the design progresses. 

At this point, during our first presentation to the client, we also discuss the project's program, budget, and schedule.  Once we have a better understanding of these three criteria, we launch into the design of the building. On this project, our intern, Jonathan Ackerman, built a series of small massing models at 1/16"=1'0" studying possible configurations based on allowable square footage and the influences of the surroundings. This is where the site considerations previously mentioned come into play. Knowing that this site is located next to a public park and across the street from an elementary school informs how the masses are organized.

los angeles architect models

4 massing models by Jonathan Ackerman 

The next step is to sit down with everyone in the office (all 5 of us at the time) and brainstorm. We give the same presentation to the office that we gave to the client and go through each of the massing models. Then the trace paper is rolled out, everyone gets quiet, and starts feverishly sketching.  This is the fun part. (I like to stop sketching 5 minutes into it, take a peak at everyone else's sketches, and let my thoughts be catapulted in a completely new direction.)  This is the time to not hold back. Every idea is possible. 

Architect Sketch

Sketches of what will become Scheme A 

When everyone has exhausted their supply of trace, each person explains their thoughts to the group. (It's amazing how, after seeing the same site analysis presentation, everyone's schemes have common threads. It shows you that the site really does drive the design.) Once we've thoroughly dissected each person's concepts, we settle on 2-3 schemes that the project designer will further develop to show the client. 

Architect Sketch

Sketches of what will become Scheme B

Before starting to develop these schemes, we research relevant precedents. Inspiration and direction both come from studying what others have done to solve problems similar to those you are facing in your design challenge. 

Architecture Precedents

Architecture Precedents

Precedent images taken from slides from our client presentation

At this point, the project designer takes everyone's sketches and began translating these sketched concepts into actual floor plans and massing models in ArchiCAD. We decided to continue to develop 2 of the schemes that came out of our in-office charrette.

After these floor plans were developed enough to talk about, we had another quick meeting with the office to get input from everyone on any minor adjustments that need to be made. 

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme A draft renderings

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme B draft renderings

Maintaining this idea that the client needs to be brought along beside us every step of the process, before we even show floor plans and renderings, we show some 3D diagrams explaining the reasoning that is informing our design decisions.

Architect Diagram

Los Angeles Architect Diagram

Scheme A diagrams

Los Angeles Residential Architect

Scheme B diagrams

At this point, all of the layouts are in ArchiCAD. However, we choose to sketch over print-outs of the layouts and show these sketches to the client instead of showing them hard-lined floor plans. Hard-lined floor plans, this early in the design process, give the impression that everything is figured out and that it's too developed to make changes. It's important, at this stage, for the client to feel that their input is welcome and that the design is a malleable thing, not a fixed thing. We also show "sketchier" renderings instead of realistic-looking renderings. 

House Floor Plan

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme A sketchy floor plans and renderings

Architect Floor Plan

Los Angeles Architects

Scheme B sketchy floor plans and renderings

At the end of our presentation of these 2 schemes to the client, the client picks 1 scheme to run with. (They picked Scheme 1. They like -- and so do we -- how the living is on the upper floor to take advantage of the views.) Once 1 scheme is chosen, we have finished the Schematic Design phase and move into the Design Development phase where the floor plans are tightened up, the look of the building is massaged, and materiality that supports the concept is explored. The Schematic Design phase, when all of the above steps are taken, serves to lay the framework for all of the decisions made in the Design Development phase. This is critical in the development of a thoughtful, relevant design.


Post by Krystal Návar. Contributors to this post include Christian Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, Architecture portfolio, Inspiration, los angeles architects, Floor Plans

Smaller Architecture Projects are Not Just a Sign of the Times

Posted by Christian Navar on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 06:04 AM

When Modative started in the Spring of 2006, we formulated a firm philosophy that included making modern affordable (and not just because the economy was about to tank). Our intention was to create a business operating structure that didn’t have to rely on generating income solely off of huge, elaborate commissions. Early on, we strived to create a firm that embraced projects of varying type and size, in order to satisfy our mission to make good design accessible to as many people as possible. So, if you call and say that you love good, modern design, but have a very limited budget, we will still consider the job. 

A Small(er) Job

Recently, we received a call that aligned perfectly with our firm philosophy. Not only did our clients have a very limited budget, but they also had a tight and strictly defined schedule. “We have a baby on the way... in 7 months to be exact. We need bedrooms now!”

Project Schedule

Project Schedule

 

The project site consisted of an existing 1300-square-foot open loft space within a large multi-unit property. Our task was to take the hip, open loft space, and make it a bit more practical. 

Floor Plan Diagrams
Floor Plan Diagrams

 

The Challenge: Split the open loft space, adding two bedroom areas, but maintain the “lofty” quality of the space. 

The Result: A Volume, A Wall, & The Doors

 

A Volume

Volume Rendering

Rendering of new volume (nursery)

 

A volume was designed to shelter the new baby. Within the volume is the nursery. Aside from the bathrooms, the volume is the only fully enclosed, fully sound isolated, traditional bedroom space in the unit. It is the perfect space for a sleeping baby (not to mention a good room to contain the terrible 2’s!)

Photograph of VolumeAt the clients' request, an interior window was provided, allowing them to peek into the volume without disturbing their sleeping baby. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Photograph of Volume from EntryPhotograph of new volume (nursery) from the entry. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

A Wall

Rendering of Wall

Rendering of the new wall from the living room

 

A wall was created to define the space between the living room and the bedroom/office area. Within the wall is much needed storage. A new closet is accessed from the bedroom side of the wall, while a new pantry is accessed from the kitchen side. 

Photograph of ClosetView of the new closet from the bedroom side of the wall. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

The Doors

Photograph of WallView of the new wall with the doors open. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Within the new wall are a series of sliding, bypassing, pocketing barn doors. When closed, the 10’-0” tall doors provide privacy for the bedroom/office area. When opened, the large openings create definition, yet openness, within the lofty space. 

Photograph of Wall, Doors ClosedView of the new wall with the doors closed. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Post by Christian Návar. Contributors to this post include Krystal Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Modern Design, Architecture portfolio, small homes, modern remodel, remodel, los angeles architects, affordable modern architecture

Modative Architecture Wins Homeless Housing Development Competition

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 @ 14:06 PM

If you've been following along with us here over the last few weeks, you've surely noticed that we've been bashing open architecture competitions and even suggesting alternatives to these time wasters.

So you may find it a bit hypocritical that today I'm announcing that we won a competition. That is, until you note the following differences between this competition and a typical open architecture competition.

Not Just an Architecture Competition

The competition we entered was through the Urban Land Institute (ULI)  to develop housing for the chronically homeless. As I posted back in April, it was a team development competition consisting of other young real estate and social work professionals. Architecture was only a piece of the proposal. Our team had to find a property, create a program, design a project, determine the services offered, and develop a detailed pro forma of how the project would be financed. The process simulated a real project compressed into six weeks.

homeless housing los angelesThe site we selected in Glendale.

 

The Competition Wasn't Open

Our team had to apply in order to get accepted to participate. There were only five teams competing.

homeless housing glendale ca

We even got to make our own cool logo. We were called Team HETED (Homeless Empowerment Through Efficient Development)

 

Collaboration

Each team was assigned a city to work with in Los Angeles County: Pasadena, Whittier, East Dominguez Hills, Long Beach and our sponsor city, Glendale. We also worked closely with homeless non-profit advocates and developers, Path Achieve Glendale and Path Ventures. The city and these organizations acted like our clients. By working with them we got to make real connections. Connections that could lead to future work.

homeless housing bungalows los angeles

The project concept is a hybrid of preservation of 1920's bungalows and modern intervention of adding new elements to bring the project up to code and provide services for the residents.

 

Team Aspect

Our team really enjoyed working with each other on this. I think we will collaborate again on future projects.

Exposure

The Urban Land Institute is a diverse organization. It reaches all types of real estate professionals. We prefer this type of exposure over showcasing our work to a bunch of fellow architects.

homeless housing competition win

 

Pro Bono

This competition was our launch into pro bono work. We spent 130 hours working on this competition. This gives us a real gauge as to the level of commitment required to do future pro bono projects. We already have an idea for our next pro bono project. It won't be through a competition.

permanent supportive housing

Overall view of the project

 

Whether or not you buy our arguments for entering this competition, I encourage you to check out our winning proposal. You can also view our online press release.

 

What do you think of our proposal?

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Affordable Housing, Architecture Experience, Architecture portfolio, Housing, Architecture Competitions, Homeless Housing

A Modern Pool Pavilion on a Steep Hill

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Sun, Jan 25, 2009 @ 05:01 AM

The Willow Glen Pool Pavilion was just added to the projects section of our website. Here's a bit about our design approach to this unique project:

modern pool designs

The Slope

When a successful young professional came to Modative about adding a pool and pool house to his property in the Hollywood Hills, we thought it was a pretty straight forward request. That was, of course, until we saw the property in person.The existing modern home which sat at street level was immediately followed by a steep 45 degree downslope. As a site for a pool, it was not ideal, but as we enjoy a good challenge; we saw this as an opportunity to design a dynamic solution that would provide the client's request for valuable outdoor space in an unlikely place.

hillside pool design

Blending In

The client had few requests, but one was that the pool pavilion be pretty well hidden from the house above. Our solution was to landscape the roof having it appear as an extension of the sloping side. This green roof not only helps disguise the building from above, but reduces runoff, heat island effect, and provides insulation to keep the pavilion cool in summer months.

pool house designs

Here Comes the Sun

The steep slope also provided difficult solar challenges. To discover the optimal location for the pool, Modative did thorough computer solar simulations with numerous schemes, eventually settling on a pool and deck location that get the most sun possible.

contemporary pool

A Special Place

The pool is designed with an infinity edge that floats over the  drop off allowing for uninterrupted views from the dramatic hillside location. The main space of the pool pavilion is designed for flexibility. Multi-track sliding doors pull back at the corner, opening up the room to the outdoors. The pavilion's wood-clad bathroom was given equal attention. Accessed via stepping pads in the pool, the bathroom also takes in the view from it's oversize shower.

pool deck designs

A Vertical Journey

Because of the intensity of the slope, the pool was located several flights of stairs below the house. Resting points, viewing platforms and changes in direction help compensate for the long vertical journey from the house down to the pool. The main view point along the stair, a projecting landing, was envisioned to double as a DJ booth for parties.

Visit the Willow Glen Pool Pavilion project page

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Modern Design, website update, Architecture Experience, Architecture portfolio, Pools

How a Young Architecture Firm Can Show Its Experience

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jan 6, 2009 @ 07:01 AM

One important thing as a young architecture firm (Modative turns three early this year) is to give your current and future clients a real sense of your experience in the field. As in any profession, especially one that involves the complexities of designing buildings, displaying competence through experience (in this case photos of actual buildings) is critical.

The difficult part, however, when your firm is still young, is that the architecture and construction process takes time. This means that it can take years (and it does) to accumulate a portfolio of built projects.

This is why when we founded Modative we decided that our website should not only show our projects that we have designed since forming Modative, but to also show projects that we played a major role in while working in prior offices. This allows us to display projects that have gone through the entire process, meaning that they are built; as well as show the wide range of project sizes and types that we have experience with.

So, three years in, this is why we still like to show the Project Experience portion of our Projects page. We hope it gives you a proper feel for the types of architectural projects we have helped realize and level of experience the three founding partners had prior to forming Modative.

The following is a project that Christian and I designed and managed while in a prior office.

Manhattan Beach Modern Residence

Glaze Residence | Manhattan Beach, CA

Lead Designers + Project Managers | Christian Navar + Derek Leavitt

Office | Studio 9 one 2 Architecture

 

Tags: Architectual Practice, Architecture Experience, Architecture portfolio