architecture blog

2014 Modative Year in Review

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 @ 06:01 AM

2014 was an eventful year for Modative. Two projects were completed, construction began on six projects (two of which are Modative Build projects), and five projects are currently in the entitlement process. 2014 also saw the birth of Modative founders’ third company: Modative Development. 2015 is going to be a big year!

01: Bento Box almost Complete

Construction continues for Modative Build at our West-Hollywood-adjacent, 5-home small lot subdivision project. This week, we are applying the 3-coat stucco and continuting with interior finishes. Construction is slated to be complete the first quarter of 2015. 

Los Angeles Modern Homes

Rendered view from corner of Romaine and Crescent Heights

Bento Box Small Lot Subdivision

Cement board siding visible through the scaffolding

Hollywood Hills Modern Architecture

View of the Hollywood Hills from the roof of Home 1

West Hollywood Modern Architecture

Marble running bond tile installation in master bathroom

02: Roberts Ave under Construction

As you may have read in a past blog post, construction began on this 3,600 square foot single-family home in Culver City in 2012 then stopped after the slab was poured. But, in 2014, it went vertical. It is now fully framed and is scheduled to be finished the second quarter of 2015.

Culver CIty Modern Home

Rendered view

Modern House Architect

Home during framing stage of construction

Culver City Modern Architects

Wall of glazing at second floor living level

03: Fay Ave Phase III Complete

This project has been in our office in one form or another for nearly 7 years. It was originally conceived as a 7-home small lot subdivision project. Due to delays caused by a down economy, it was built in 3 separate stages. The third and final phase was completed in October of 2014. All phases were constructed by Modative Build.

Fay Ave Small Lot Subdivision

Rendered view of the front unit of Phase III

Art District Dwellings Modern

Photo of completed front unit (check out how closely it resembles the rendering)

Modern Kitchen Architect

Kitchen and living room

Los Angeles Modern Yard Architect

Covered outdoor living room and backyard of front unit

04: Cardiff Cubes Construction

This 3-home small lot subdivision in Palms, a stone's throw from downtown Culver City, began construction around the same time as our Bento Box project. We're in a friendly race to see which project will finish first. 

Los Angeles Small Lot Culver City

Rendering of street view

Palms Small Lot Construction

Framing stage (like the Bento Box project, it is four stories tall)

05: Formosa Fusion under Construction

This 10-home small lot subdivision project is located just northwest of La Brea and Melrose and began construction in December of 2014.

Small Lot Community Architect

Rendering

Small Lot Foundation Construction

Footings and formwork

06: Hangar Homes Construction 

Modative Build began construcion on this 4-home small lot subdivision project in December of 2014. These homes are located just north of Santa Monica Airport on Ocean Park Blvd. and took inspiration from the aircraft hangars once located nearby.

Los Angeles Small Lot Santa Monica

Rendered View

Ocean Park Modative Build

Photo at twilight after demo and grading

07: Pettis Ave Complete

This 2,400 square foot single-family residence, located in Mountain View, CA, was completed in March of 2014. This home sold for $2.35 million.

Single Family Modern Architecture

Rendering of street view

Mountain View Modern Architecture

Photo of completed street view*

Modern Residential Architecture Pettis

Photo of rear view and backyard*

Bay Area Modern Home

Photo from master bedroom*

*Listing photos courtesy of Rob Mibach of Intero Real Estate Services

08: Strata Homes Construction

This 10-home small lot subdivision project is located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles on Yosemite Dr. and takes its inspiration from the nearby Eagle Rock rock formation.

Los Angeles Small Lot Architecture

Rendered view from street

Eagle Rock Small Lot Subdivision

Footing formwork for Homes 5-10

09: Foothill Blvd Live + Work Zone Change Approved

Foothill Blvd. Live + Work is a 6-home subdivision in Cupertino. Our application for a zone change was approved in Septemeber 2014, changing the existing Commercial zoning to Commercial and Residential. This allows the current abandoned gas station to be redeveloped into six homes with office spaces facing Foothill Blvd. We submitted for permit at the end of 2014 and construction is expected to begin in 2015. 

Cupertino Modern Home Architect

Rendered view from Foothill Blvd.

10: New Projects in 2014

a. Alvarado is a 46-home project in Palm Springs, CA currently in Planning-approval stages.

Palm Springs Modern Architecture 

Rendered view from North Palm Canyon Drive

b. Hyperion is a 8-home small lot subdivision project in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is also currenly in Planning-approval stages.

Los Angeles Modern Home Architect

Rendered view of street elevation

c. Ave 57 Art Walk Homes is Modative Develop's first project! It is a 5-home small lot subdivision project in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and is in the early stages of design.

Highland Park Small Lot Developer 

Early Site Plan

d. Edinburgh is a 8-home small lot subdivision project is just northwest of Fairfax and Melrose. It is in early design stages.

Los Angeles MidCity Small Lot

Early Site Plan

e. Flores is an 11-home small lot subdivision project is located southeast of La Cienega and Beverly. It is also in the early stages of design.

Beverly Center House Architecture

An early collage expressing the design intent for the internal driveway / courtyard

11 Staff Updates

a. Both Katherine Costa and Krystal Návar earned their Real Estate Sales Person License in 2014. Do I sense a fourth Modative company in the near future?

Modative Real Estate Sales Person

b. Modative began a Health + Wellness program in 2014, which encourages employees to live healthier lives by incentivising physical and mental respites throughout the week. 

Modative Health Wellness Baldwin Hills

Photo from group outing to climb the Baldwin Hills stairs

c. Modative also began an Education program to encourage well-rounded professional development in employees. A stipend is granted to each employee to be used that year toward a personally valuable and professionally enriching activity.

Spanish Eduction Architect LA

One employee used her fund to purchase Rosetta Stone Spanish for the office

d. Summer, our Office Manager, and Jesus, a Project Manager, became engaged at the end of 2014. How exciting is that?!

Jesus Summer Architecture Modative Love

I mean, seriously. How cute! 

e. Modative Development, Inc., the third company from Derek + Christian, was born in 2014. 

Los Angeles Small Lot Developer

Modative Development logo

f. Modative and Modative Build hired six people in 2014. Brad Benefield and Steve Knight were brought on with Modative Build. Alan Dana was hired to project manage for Modative. Kenny Lee and Deborah O'Connell came on board as interns for Modative. And Stephanie Garcia was hired to assist Summer with office management duties.

Modative Build Happy Employees

From left to right: Brad Benefield and Steve Knight of Modative Build

Modative Happy Employees

From left to right: Kenny Lee, Alan Dana, and Stephanie Garcia of Modative (Deborah O'Connell not pictured)

Tags: Los Angeles, Modern Design, Residential, construction, Small Lot Subdivision, Development

Modative in LA Planning Newsletter

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

During a recent trip to City Hall, I stumbled upon pLAnning, the quarterly newsletter of the LA City Planning Department. In this edition, Simon Pastucha, a City Planner with the Urban Design Studio, presents the City’s newly-issued Citywide Design Guidelines and Small Lot Design Guidelines. Both of the images included in the article are of Modative projects: The Cullen Street Art District Homes + Artis @ Echo Park!  

Modative contributed project images and participated in review sessions for the creation of the Small Lot Design Guidelines. In fact, both Cullen and Artis were featured on the cover. We are proud that two of our projects have been selected by the Urban Design Studio as being representative of thoughtfully-designed projects that contribute to the urban fabric of Los Angeles.

LA City Planning Newsletter Cullen Modative

Cullen on the front page of the newsletter 

LA City Planning Newsletter Artis Modative

Artis on the back page of the newsletter 

Modative has created our own Small Lot Subdivision Guide, a "how-to" for developers interested in Small Lot Subdivision. Check it out and contact us with any questions.

Tags: los angeles architects, Modern Design, real estate, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, Development, architecture resources, Housing

Modative Architecture's 2012 Year in Review

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 @ 06:12 AM

Fortunately, 2012 has been a very busy year for us, which is why there's been little time for blog updates. So we thought we'd let you know about four important things that happened at Modative in 2012:

1. Cullen Art District Homes Sold

Cullen Art District Small Lot Subdivision

Our three home, small lot subdivision project on Cullen Street sold very quickly at the following prices.

Home A (Front): $650,000

Home B (Middle): $650,000

Home C (Rear): $675,000

Small Lot Subdivision Los Angeles Plans

The Cullen Street project was initiated by our client during a very uncertain economic time so it's great to see this project's ultimate success.

2. Modern Homes Under Construction

We currently have four residential projects under construction:

726 California Ave

A three-home small lot subdivision in Venice, CA. This project is currently wrapping up stucco, siding and interior finishes and should be complete by March 2013.

Venice Small Lot Architects Modern

Rendering

modern home venice architects 726 CA

Home A along California Ave. Stucco and siding going in on 12.21.12.

Venice small lot architects modative 2012

Home C from the alley.

 

Artis @ Echo Park

Construction of Phase I (8 homes) is underway on this 15-home small lot subdivision in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Artis is currently in framing and the first set of homes should be complete in the spring of 2013. Artis @ Echo Park was posted on Curbed Los Angeles earlier this week.

Artis @ Echo Park Modern Architects

Rendering

Echo Park Modern Architects 2012

First floor framing on 12.21.12.

Artis Echo Park small lot subdivision 2012

Phase I includes building the first eight homes.


Roberts Ave Residence

A single family residence in Culver City, CA that overlooks a public park.

modern culver city architects

Rendering

culver city residential architects contractors

slab pour


Fay 3X Homes

Three townhouse apartments. This is Phase II of III of the Fay Ave Art District Dwellings (a future small lot subdivision). Phase I, the Fay 2X Homes was complete in late 2011, featured in the Los Angeles Times in February 2012, and are still occupied by the original renters. Here's a bit more info on the design of the Fay 3X Homes. This phase is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013. Also of note, Modative Build is the contractor on this project. And we will be building even more of our projects as we push into 2013.

fay 3x modern home architects

Rendering of 3X homes (left) next to the existing 2X homes (right).

Fay 3X modern los angeles apartment framing 2012

Framing started at Fay 3X Homes on 12.19.12

modern apartmnet architects fay 3x framing 1

And this is what it looked like a day later on 12.20.12

 

3. New Projects in 2012

2012 brought a lot of great new projects into the office. Here are some highlights:

Cardiff Cubes

We signed up this project in the first week of 2012; a great sign for the year. Cardiff Cubes is a three-home small lot subdivison near downtown Culver City. This project is approved by planning and is currently in the permitting phase. Construction start expected in spring of 2013.

 

cardiff cubes small lot subdivision los angeles

 

Fay 3X Homes

As mentioned above, this project is under construction.

fay 3x homes culver city arts district

 

Venice Boulevard Live/Work - Eight live/work apartments in Los Angeles. The likely future Modative and Modative Build world headquarters.

venice blvd modern live work los angeles architects

 

Ocean Park Hangar Homes

A four-home small lot subdivison in Los Angeles inspired by the nearby aviation and hangars of the Santa Monica Airport.

santa monica modern home architect ocean park

 

Milwood Avenue Residence

A single family spec home in Venice, CA. Scheduled to start construction in a few months.

Venice Modern Residence Architects

 

Vernon Avenue Residence

A single family spec home in Venice, CA. Scheduled to start construction in spring or summer of 2013.

Vernon Ave Residential Modern Architecture Firm Venice

 

 

Pettis Avenue Residence

A single family residence in Mountain View, Ca (that's up North). Scheduled to start construction in 2013.

Mountain View CA Modern Architects

 

4. New People in 2012

The new projects enabled us to add three new staff to our existing team of four, bringing our total to seven. We were very happy to welcome Dena, Jesus & Jesse to our team this year.

Modative Architecture Staff Add 2012

We didn't even ask them to smile. They did it on their own because they love working here.

 

Happy Holidays. See you in 2013!

Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, website update, Architectual Practice, Residential, construction, Small Lot Subdivision, Cullen Street Homes Construction

A Skinny Solution for Small House Floor Plans

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, May 30, 2012 @ 07:05 AM

A while back, we posted about our design process for developing master suite floor plan options for the Cullen Street Small Lot Subdivision project. We presented 6 different layout options, but there were countless variations. Usually, on a project, we decide which layout to run with based on our own design preference and direction given to us by our client.

Our 14-home Commerce Villas Small Lot Subdivision project in Tujunga, however, presented a unique set of challenges. To lay out 14 homes on the site in the most efficient manner, taking into consideration setbacks, driveway widths, vehicle backup requirements, etc., each home ended up being a mere 15’-0” wide, measuring from the exterior face of the north wall to the exterior face of the south wall.

small house plans

Site Plan of Commerce Villas project

The Cullen Street building footprints are generally square, whereas the Commerce Villas building footprints are long and skinny. So, unlike the Cullen homes, where there were many variations of floor plan layouts, the narrowness of the Commerce Villas homes limited our options. There are only so many ways to lay out a home like this, fitting in the programatic requirements given to us by the client: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, outdoor decks/patios, and 2 covered parking spaces in 1200-1500 square feet.

First of all, the narrowness of the homes necessitates that the parking be tandem. (We can discuss the pros and cons of tandem parking all day long, but we’ll leave that to another blog post.) Also, we decided early on through discussions with the client that the living level (kitchen, dining room, living room, and powder room) would be located on the second level and the bedrooms and laundry located on the third level due to the age of the anticipated potential buyer. We expected this buyer would not want to haul their groceries up two flights of stairs. (Many times, though, on other projects, we will locate the living spaces on the upper level when the project is appealing to a younger demographic and the views from the upper level warrant being appreciated during daylight hours and not while you’re sleeping in bed.)

small house floor plans

Early first floor plan

skinny solution small house floor plans

Early second floor plan

la modern skinny house plans 03

Early third floor plan

So, keeping these constraints in mind, after locating the parking in the footprint, there is only one space to locate the stair without having the stair separate the living spaces from the deck or yard space. Once the stair is located, the big decision is on which side of the home (east or west) to locate the kitchen or the living room. Should the kitchen have direct access to the deck (so the user doesn’t have very far to travel when bbq-ing) or should the living room? The client chose Option 2.

small house plans la architect small lot

Option 1 showing the kitchen next to the deck. (See Option 2 above with living next to the deck.)

We also developed a second option for the bedroom level with a walk-in laundry room instead of a stacking washer/dryer in a laundry closet. Ultimately, we decided to locate the bathrooms next to one another so they could share a plumbing wall. The client also decided that a walk-in laundry room was not a priority.

modern bedroom floor plans small house

Option 2 showing the kitchen next to the deck. (See Option 1 above.)

As we spent more time looking at the buildings three-dimensionally in our computer model, we tried ways to spice things up. We couldn’t do anything too crazy as keeping the cost of construction low was a priority. In an attempt to make the 6’-0” spaces between the buildings a more interesting space to occupy, we angled the exterior walls facing those gaps. However, because the walls could not be angled out to make the buildings greater than 15’-0” wide, the walls had to be angled in, making the already limited interior spaces smaller. When your home is only 15’-0” wide, every inch counts. Ultimately, we decided that the angled walls were not angled enough to be worth the effort (or implied cost), so we straightened them back out.

small lot house plan

Second level floor plan showing angled walls

In the latest layouts, we did keep the angled walls on the front of the units in order to give the elevation a bit of shadow-play and interest. As you may have already noticed, we also staggered the building pairs. We did not want to present the street or the interior driveway with a flush wall of 3-story homes. Staggering the homes gives these elevations a bit of relief and creates a more interesting pedestrian experience.

modern small house plan

Latest first floor plan

narrow house floor plan

Latest second floor plan

modern small lot floor plan

Latest third floor plan

small lot subdivision tujunga

Project rendering

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

Tags: los angeles architects, home size, Floor Plans, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, small homes, Small House, affordable modern architecture

Small Lot Subdivision Branching Out of Los Angeles?

Posted by Christian Navar on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 06:04 AM

Derek and I recently spoke at a mobile workshop on LA's Small Lot Ordinance at the American Planning Association's (APA) National Conference in Los AngelesAt the conclusion of the workshop, we were asked, by an attendee of the workshop, a question about affordability (we like to use “attainability” because when people hear “affordability” they tend to only think of low-income housing). The attendee who asked the question turned out to be a City Council member from the capital city of a state, outside of California, with a population of over a million people (for the sake of privacy and the future of this person’s political career, the person and the city will remain nameless in this blog entry... for now). 

At the conclusion of a very brief back-and-forth dialogue with the councilman, I offered an open invitation to discuss the issue in greater depth. I suggested modative help him figure out if the economics within his district warranted what we feel is one of the greatest city ordinances in the United States. He gave me his card and asked that I get in contact with him. 

In today’s blog post, I would like to share with everyone my initial e-mail to the Council District  representative in an attempt to follow up and get this innovative planning method and practice into another great city: 

 

Hello [City Council member], 

I hope the rest of your stay in Los Angeles and your travel back to [your city] was great!  It was nice briefly meeting you on the APA Small Lot Subdivision tour. Thank you for joining us and I hope you enjoyed our brief presentation regarding a few of our Small Lot Subdivision projects. 

Your question regarding "affordability" was a fantastic one and I would love the opportunity to discuss it further with you. Here, in our office, we utilize Small Lot Subdivision as a means to practice architecture and construction. However, our true passion lies in better understanding the economics involved in the ordinance's implementation. 

Our goal is to develop these projects and provide an attainable housing alternative that will help stop the mass departure of our own friends from Los Angeles. All of us at Modative attended the University of Southern California. Our friends and colleagues from USC are now Architects, Engineers, Lawyers, Doctors, Professors, etc. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, homeownership is no longer attainable, even for those who practice in top-tier professional fields. Many of our closest friends can no longer afford to live in the city and state they grew up in. We are tired of attending going away parties for friends and family moving to more affordable cities like Portland, Austin, Denver, and Phoenix. We see the potential in the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance to solve this problem. 

Our involvement in the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance has been a great experience thus far. We have become experts in this ordinance and have ideas about how it could be modified to better achieve what it was originally intended to do. We are still firm believers in this housing alternative and think that, with a few small changes or by thinking a bit out of the box, we will soon be able to develop a housing stock that keeps L.A.'s professional class from migrating elsewhere. 

From your website, I gather your city is experiencing some growth and you are very interested in future planning while providing opportunity that is mutually beneficial to your constituents and those looking for new possibilities. We believe [your city] would be a great place to adopt a similar ordinance and provide a better, attainable housing alternative. After an initial quick glance at your Planning and Zoning website, it looks like your [medium density residential 1] through [medium density residential 2] zones would be ideal zones in which to implement a Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance. 

Reviewing some aerial maps, I found a project at the termination of [This] St. and [That] St. that looks to be an approximately 15-unit residential project with "adjoining walls". This may have been a perfect opportunity to provide a "fee-simple" alternative to new home ownership (see below). 


Small Lot Subdivision Illustration

 

When are you available to talk more about the economics of this type of project? Please let me know when you are free to schedule a follow-up phone call.  I look forward to talking to you soon. 

Here is a link to a page on our website where you can access the guide we developed regarding developing small lot subdivision projects in Los Angeles. 

Small Lot Subdivision Guide - Free Download

Here is a link to a page on our website where you can access useful documents from the City of Los Angeles pertaining to the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance. 

Free Download of Small Lot Subdivision Information

Thanks,

-Christian

 

On a side note, if you are a City Council member or city planner, have come across today’s blog post, and are interested in discussing or adopting a similar ordinance in your community, feel free to contact modative. We would be happy to help you draft a similar innovative planning policy or conduct a Small Lot Subdivision housing needs assessment for your city. It is possible to provide a creative “attainable” housing solution that will help create better living environments for you and your community. 

For any developers, architects, or concerned citizens out there who feel there is inadequate attainable housing in your city, feel free to contact us as well. Or, use my letter above as inspiration to contact your own City Council or planning representative. 

We will keep you updated on the Council District representative’s response!

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

Tags: Los Angeles, los angeles architects, Property, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, Development, Subdivisions, Housing, Planning

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

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

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

10 Questions for Architects to Ask Potential Residential Clients

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 @ 07:12 AM

One of the most difficult client types to gauge when they first contact our architecture firm is single family residential clients. We often find ourselves asking them the same questions from memory in order to determine our architecture fee and if their project is a good fit for our office.

After repeating this exercise all too often, we decided that there was an easier way. So we wrote up a list of 10 questions for potential residential clients to answer. This was not an attempt to remove the personal touch of discussing a clients potential project over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting, but a way to be thorough in collecting all the basic information that helps us write better proposals that cater to the client's needs.

 

pool house architect los angeles

Would you like a pool house with that?

The idea was to email the questions over as a follow up to that first phone call. We decided to keep it simple. Make it multiple choice when we could and encourage short answers. Our previous attempts to create questionnaires like this were often bloated, causing our clients to feel overwhelmed and hesitant to complete them.

We created the document in Pages (Apple's version of Word), but then converted it to the more universal Microsoft Word format. As it says at the top of the document, the client can choose how they want to fill it out and return it to us.

Here's our 10 question Residential Project Checklist in its full format. A link to download this as a Word file is provided at the end of the post.

-----------------------

Residential Project Checklist


10 quick questions to help us better understand your needs


1. Your Name:  Jane Doe


2. Phone Number(s): XXX.XXX.XXX


3. Email Address: janedoe@gmail.com


4. Spouse/Partner’s Name (if applicable):  John Doe


5. Project Address:
101 Terrace Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90000


6. My project falls under which categories (place an X in front of all that apply and briefly
describe):


__ Ground-up Residential
 Size: XXXX square feet
 Quick Description: Add quantity and type of rooms


__ Residential Remodel
 Size: XXXX square feet
 Quick Description: Add quantity and type of rooms


__ Residential Addition
 Size: XXXX square feet
 Quick Description: Add quantity and type of rooms


__ Pool/Pool House
 Size: XXXX square feet
 Quick Description: Add quantity and type of rooms


7. What is your estimated budget for the construction project?
 __ less than $25,000
  __$25,000 - $75,000
 __ $75,000 - $150,000
 __$150,000 - $250,000
  __ $250,000 - $500,000
 __ $500,000 - $1,000,000
  __ over $2,000,000

 


8. If you have a schedule in mind, please explain below:
 I’d like to start construction on this project in blank months.


9. If you are doing a remodel or addition, do you have any existing plans of the house? (please
mark all that apply):
 __ I don’t have any plans.
 __ I have physical copies of the plans (like old blueprints).
 __ I have digital copies of the plans (like .dwg or .pdf files).
 __ I drew up the plans myself

 

10. Anything else you care to share about your project?
    Things you must have? Ideas on green design?

 

----------------------------------------

Here's a link to download the Residential Client Checklist

If you have any suggestions or key questions you think the list is missing, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Contributors to this post include Christian Návar, Michael Scott and Krystal Návar.

Tags: remodel, los angeles architects, Architectual Practice, architecture resorces, Residential

Architects Answering the Important Questions

Posted by Christian Navar on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 @ 06:09 AM

People often contact Modative about a project they have in mind, but they are often unsure of how to get started. Common questions we receive are:

  • How much will it cost?
  • What will the city allow us to do?
  • How much square footage can I build?
  • Is it feasible?
  • How many units can I build?
  • How much parking do I need to provide?
  • What is the process?
  • How long will it take to permit or build?
  • I have a lot / want to buy a lot / want to lease a property. What can I do with it?

Modative was recently contacted by two individuals who posed many of the questions listed above. The first individual was a long-time business owner with a hard-to-lease commercial auto body shop in Los Angeles. The second was a young entrepreneur looking to find a property in order to open a new restaurant/bar concept. With both of these clients, their long term plans were contingent upon taking really important first steps to decide what to do with the property they own/lease/were looking to purchase or lease.

los angeles bar architect

Our services often include conceptual renderings like this one for the aforementioned restaurant/bar in Los Angeles. These renderings are valuable tools for our clients (and their investors) to envision the project's possibilities.

Since the economic climate has shifted downward so dramatically, more and more of our clients are requesting that we provide answers to important questions in order to guide them in the decision-making process before they spend too much of their cash reserves. In our ongoing efforts to give people insight into the helpful services we provide here at Modative, we’d like to share a service in which several of our recent clients have had a particular interest: Site Evaluation and Planning Services.

The beauty of our Site Evaluation and Planning Services is that within a few weeks, for a smaller financial commitment, we can provide valuable insight into what can be done with a property. The level of detail provided in our analysis is catered to the clients specific needs. Some just want the basics, like of what uses are allowed and the code restraints, while others want a more detailed investigation, like program development, preliminary layouts, conceptual renderings, and even preliminary budget analysis of construction and soft costs (architectural, consultants and city fees).

los angeles office rehab architect

A descriptive 3D Plan we provided as part of the Site Evaluation and Planning Services for an auto body shop conversion into office commercial.

While we frequently provide these services for ground-up projects such as Residential Small Lot Subdivision projects, we also do quite a few for residential and commercial rehab and remodel projects.

Check out our Site Evaluation and Planning Services page to download a sample report we developed for a commercial rehab project and learn more about how these services are a great way to get a project started without a huge upfront commitment.

 

Download a sample Site Evaluation and Planning report:

site evaluation  

Site Evaluation + Planning Services

A sample case study of a commercial rehab and former auto body shop in North Hollywood, California.

 

Contributors to this post include Derek Leavitt, AIA, Michael Scott and Krystal Návar.

Tags: Los Angeles, architect advice, Zoning Code Search, Architectual Practice, architecture resorces, Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, Development