architecture blog

Fay 2x Homes - Future Small Lot Subdivision Construction Complete!

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 06:02 AM

In November 2010, we posted about our cost-effective solution to reviving a project that had completely stalled due to the housing bust (see: Modative Architecture Provides Stimulus Package.) Well, since this last post, our sister company, Modative Build, has completed construction of Phase One of this new Fay Ave. project! 

To recap, the “2x” concept came out of finding a simple, creative, cost-effective solution to this goal: to re-imagine a pre-housing-bust development for a much different market. Fay 2x Homes is the reincarnation of the Fay Ave Art District Dwellings, a seven-home Small Lot Subdivision project, which was designed before the real estate market crashed. Our challenge, as architects, was to reinvent this project for a changed economy. 

The seven-home project would ultimately utilize three adjacent lots; however, the center lot was sitting vacant, and, as such, was not providing any income for the owner while the development stalled. Our client asked us to propose a simple, cost-effective design that would add immediate value to this vacant lot and start generating rental income. We decided to drastically simplify the design of the homes and to phase construction in a way that made the most financial sense for our client. The two homes pictured make up Phase One of a four-phase project. 

While the modern design of the project was inspired and influenced by its’ location near the Culver City Arts District, the straightforward design is a direct result of providing a cost-conscious solution for our client.  We decided to limit certain building components to only two variations as a way to minimize the overall project cost. This self-imposed limitation is evident throughout the design of the homes: phase one consists of two homes, each utilizing just two exterior materials, two interior materials, two colors, two window sizes, and two door sizes. Further emphasizing the “2x” concept, each home contains two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms on two floors, for a combined total of 2,000 square feet. These smaller, more affordable homes are being rented as apartments until all four phases are complete and the properties are ultimately subdivided into seven lots/homes per the Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance.

As a burgeoning design/build firm, we were also able to act as the General Contractor on this project. This helped to keep the cost of construction down for our client by drastically minimizing the cost of change orders that are typically a part of a traditional architect/contractor construction project relationship.

Phase One of this project was completed December 2011 and is now fully occupied.

Here are some photos of the first completed phase of the Fay 2x Homes. Enjoy!

small lot subdivision architects modern los angeles fay

The simplicity of the Fay 2x Homes allowed the property owner to start earning rental income ASAP.

small lot subdivision los angeles cement board siding fay

The wood 2x vertical fins, while hiding the connection details of the cement board siding, also create a graphic pattern on each building face. The patterns are dynamic and change with the time of day, especially on the south walls.

small lot subdivision LA fay ave 2X

A view of the back of the property. Check out all that vehicle back-up space required by the city! It's a crazy amount of space dedicated to the car, but I could throw a mean bbq shindig back there, so it's not totally wasted space.

small lot subdivision modern architect cement board siding

The home entrances are punctuated by bright green doors. 

small lot subdivision modern interior architecture

The concrete floor, plywood ceiling, and IKEA kitchen were all cost-conscious moves to keep the homes relevant in today's market.

small lot subdivision architect modern home

The front home's living area opens out onto a ground-level patio that engages Fay Ave.

los angeles architects small lot subdivision interior

The back home's living area is on the upper level, taking advantage of views toward the Baldwin Hills and the Helm's Bakery sign.

small lot subdivision modern bathroom architect

The bathroom finishes land just below custom-home level, but well above apartment-grade on the finish quality meter.


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

Tags: Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, contractor, small homes, Small House, los angeles architects, culver city, construction

4 Goals for Our Architecture Firm in 2010

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 @ 09:01 AM

Instead of publishing my personal resolutions for 2010, I thought I'd fill you in on what Modative has in store for 2010.

1. Integrated Project Delivery

Here at Modative, we're never mistaken for traditionalists. I'm not just talking about our architectural style, but the way we do everything. This is why we are committed to further moving away from the traditional design-bid-build process into integrated project delivery. We feel that this new way of delivering projects to our clients not only distinguishes us from the competition, but makes the process easier on our clients, contractors and even us.

 

problem design bid build

 

And since we're not looking to procrastinate on our 2010 resolutions, we've already added a section on Integrated Project Delivery to our website so you can see what it's all about.

2. Beyond Architecture

In more and more of our projects, clients have been asking us to go beyond our core architecture services to provide them with many of the other things that go into getting a project built.

Why? Because coordinating with one person (Modative) is much easier than coordinating with ten different consultants. We also prefer this one-stop-shop service because it further enables us to deliver the finished project as envisioned.

A glimpse of what we can provide can be found on our  services beyond architecture page.

architecture services

3. Modative Build

When we founded Modative, one of our primary company goals was so important to us that we put it on our business cards. Instead of "Architecture", we used the tag line "Design, Develop, Build." And while we have assisted with development decisions on the Venice Boulevard Urban Dwellings and Fay Avenue Art District Dwellings, we haven't yet acted as the contractor on one of our projects. That will soon change as I'm proud to announce that Modative Build will be launching this year.


 

 

 

 

 

 

design develop build


4. Small Lot Subdivision

When I tell people I'm an architect, they often ask, "So, do you do houses or (commercial) buildings". "Both" I answer.

Our firm has always kept our project types diverse: a fairly even split between residential and commercial. And within the residential category, there has been a healthy mix of single-family and multi-family projects. However, if there's one project type that we've done more than any other, it's clearly Small Lot Subdivision, which is really a hybrid between homes and condos. We've continued to pursue and take on these Small Lot Projects because we believe in them as the future of residential development in Los Angeles (and a lot of other places).

Small Lot Subdivision Blog Los Angeles

To show our further commitment to this unique project type,  we've expanded our Small Lot Subdivision online presence with a new Small Lot Subdivision Blog and a free guide on the basics of developing Small Lot Subdivision Projects in Los Angeles.

 

small lot development guide

 

Sample diagram from the Small Lot Subdivision Guide

Tags: Announcements, Innovation, Business, Architectual Practice, contractor, Project Strategy, construction

Keeping Building Projects Alive in a Down Market

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 @ 10:02 AM

We've all heard the story too many times now. Banks tighten up lending, the stock market tanks, housing prices fall, etc. etc. This downturn has no doubt affected just about everyone, but cetainly the building industry has been one of the hardest hit by the economic crisis.

Saving Projects

Although not all building projects have been saved from this downturn, we at Modative have utilized a strategy to keep most of our projects moving forward in this time of uncertainty: SIMPLIFICATION.

Value Engineering

Several of our projects have called for a "simplification" of their designs to lower construction prices and regain feasibility in this new market reality. This "simplification" of a building's design is what we in the industry typicially call "value engineering". Value engineering is esentially reducing the construction cost of a building by changing it's design, quality or both. Although this often has a bad connotation in the architecture world, we have been happy with the results of the few projects in the office that have recently undergone some value engineering.In the coming weeks we'll post updates to the designs of these two projects.

 design changes design changes car wash
Venice Boulevard Urban Dwellings              
 Fashion Square Car Wash

The Timing of Design Changes

The reason the value engineering of these buildings has gone so well has everything to do with timing and our approach to project management. Often times in a traditional architecture process, the contractor is not brought into the project until late in the game, after the project has been almost fully designed and most of the technical drawings complete.

Get a Contractor Involved

We at Modative learned long ago that this traditional architect/contractor relationship is often risky because you don't really know realistic building costs until most of the architecture is done. Architects are good a number of things. Estimating market-rate construction costs, however, is better left to contractors. For this reason, we prefer to bring a contractor on early and often to give feedback on real construction costs throughout each step in the architecture process. This means that if the project is over budget or you have a massive shift in the market (as we have recently witnessed), adjustments in the design can be made much faster, easier, and with minimal cost to the project owner. The alternative of changing a project's design when its far along in the process can be very expensive and unpleasant for everyone involved.

Contractor involvement in architecture processA comparision of our typical approach to contractor involvement versus the traditional design/bid/build approach. Learn more about the architecture phases by downloading our free guide.
 

Starting a New Project

Now that we are in a down market, we feel that this approach that we have embraced enables us to handle the tighter budgets that many new projects now face. Having a contractor around to give cost feedback throughout the process is critical to keeping things on budget. We work with several contractors that can provide this service to our clients even if the client does not want to commit to using that contractorfor the actual construction.

Design Changes

In the coming weeks we'll be posting a few examples of our projects that have undergone some value engineering design changes to adapt to this new economic climate.

Tags: Organization, Architectual Practice, value engineering, contractor