7917 Willoughby
Lawrence Anderson 7917 Willoughby
Lorcan O'Herlihy
Undine Pröhl Lorcan O'Herlihy

It’s hard to stand out in Los Angeles, a city teeming with terrific residential architects. But Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) manages to do so. Founded by Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, the firm was chosen as the American Institute of Architects’ L.A. chapter’s 2010 Firm of the Year. It consistently wins design awards for its housing, single-family, commercial, and institutional projects, and the Architectural League of New York named it an Emerging Voice in 2004.

The firm has long been known for its innovative custom homes, particularly O’Herlihy’s own much-published, light-filled residence on a narrow site in Venice, Calif. But in recent years LOHA also has gained widespread attention for its groundbreaking multifamily work. At boutique condominium projects such as Habitat 825 and Formosa 1140, both in West Hollywood, Calif., O’Herlihy and his team have worked with their client and the city to redefine the boundaries between public and private space, a feat he hopes will affect other urban planning efforts. “We’re very excited about the idea of change,” says O’Herlihy, who currently teaches at the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. “We’re a design-driven firm that strives for social relevance.”

In-the-works projects include a series of 360 bus shelters for the city of Santa Monica, Calif., with Bruce Mau Design, and a mixed-use development in West Hollywood with 28 residential units plus office and retail space.

What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?

The opportunity to speculate on design and the great patrons involved in each individual project.

What is the most frustrating aspect?

It has not been a frustrating experience for us to do residential projects.

What is your mission statement or firm goal?

The work of LOHA is motivated by the possibility of real change. We believe that a contemporary society is one that is constantly evolving and see architecture as a potential catalyst for effecting new growth and new ways of thinking. By harnessing these opportunities through architectural innovation, the work aspires to attain the highest artistic and technical achievements.

LOHA’s work is informed by rigorous research, delving deeply into the unique and complex issues underlying each design problem. While our decision making adheres to the resolution of these issues, we remain flexible, constantly on alert for opportunities of the unexpected. Through this heightened awareness, we aim to create connections across multiple scales and levels, and search for ways to manifest these ideas and relationships into actual experiences.

What is the most indispensable tool in your office?

Whichever medium is necessary to bring forth great ideas.

What software does your firm use?

Autodesk Software, Adobe Suite, and Rhino.

Who is your ideal client?

An experienced client that understands the complexities and uncertainties inherent in architecture and construction.

What is your favorite building?

The Bird’s Nest by Herzog & de Meuron.

If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?

Herzog & de Meuron!