Credit: Benny Chan / Fotoworks
Credit: Jack Coyier
Credit: Jack Coyier
Design/build firms have been around for centuries, but few today do it as well as Leo Marmol, FAIA, and Ron Radziner, FAIA. They’re architects first, but the build component grows from their predilection for intense collaboration. It’s not enough to imagine a brilliant idea; they intend to take advantage of every touch point to get it just right.
Even the residential side of this ambitious practice cuts a wide swath, from expensive homes for the Hollywood elite to low-income housing for community-based organizations, and from restorations of high-profile projects such as the Richard Neutra–designed Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, which put them on the map in the mid-1990s, to fabricating furniture, windows, and doors. The prefab division, launched in 2005, springs from a search for economically efficient housing solutions and a solid working knowledge of how things go together.
The firm builds most of the homes it designs in California. “In these economically and politically challenging times, we’ve noticed a return to a fundamental concern for the home, which makes the whole process more gratifying. We find great joy in getting to see the design all the way through and ensure that a home is well built,” Radziner says, suggesting that the most sustainable house may be the one clients keep the longest.
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
Realizing a client’s dreams and creating a home that will be lived in and loved.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
Design review boards sometimes restrict design freedom to the point of watering down ideas and forcing designs into the middle.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
To create responsible architecture that reveals our clients’ dreams, is in harmony and dialogue with the natural world, supports sustainable development, and improves communities. We have always gravitated toward natural and renewable materials and will continue to build that way.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
Our creativity and openness to possibilities.
What software does your firm use?
Revit, Autodesk 3ds Max, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Who is your ideal client?
Impassioned, open-minded, sustainability-conscious, and excited about created a thoughtful, dynamic, and lasting space.
What is your favorite building?
Ron Radziner: Therme Vals, in Graubünden, Switzerland, by Peter Zumthor.
If you didn’t have time to design your own house, who would you hire?
RR: Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.