Tucked within the hillside of a dessert landscape amid the ever dry and relentless sun sits a parcel of land. This parcel like any other in the area is the product of environmental forces that have molded, eroded and defined this place for millennia. Curated first by a vast emptiness and followed then by the native flora and fauna. Lastly, our human nomadic and permanent settlement made claim to this parcel and built. Begotten on this particular place in 1947 was a masterpiece. This is the product of a mans vision which defined an era of architecture and still maintains an enduring influence over 70 years later. The Kaufmann house in Palm Springs CA, by Richard Neutra is a definitive piece of Mid-Century Modern architecture that escalated the profession and set benchmarks for minimalist modern design set in contrast to its stark, raw and un-compromised landscape. Throughout the years however, multiple tenants made additions and changes to the original design and the Kaufmann house no longer retained its luster that it once held. Years later a phone call was made to a small and fairly unknown design build firm in Southern California. The call was to commission the restoration of the mid-century masterpiece and re-invigorate the architectural character it once had. That small office was Marmol Radziner + Associates and today they have published a new book that just arrived at our office today.
The book is by Marmol Radziner + Associates and it’s titled Between Architecture and Construction. Marmol Radziner + Associates is a design-build Architecture firm out of Santa Monica CA, and has been specializing in Modernist design for over 20 years. For over 100 years the American Institute of Architects (AIA) banned design build practices due to potential conflict of interest and designated architecture as something separate from building. Marmol Radziner + associates saw this as “counterintuitive, because architecture is about the object.” The company has transformed the design-build industry into their own which has made them uniquely poised to “relclaim control” of a projects development from beginning to end. Their philosophy defines themselves first as craftspeople who embrace an array of disciplines and responds to the surrounding context given to them. They have also recently embraced and taken to a whole other level the industry of prefab. Their very own prefab factory designs, creates and assembles neo-prefab architecture that redefines what we all have previously thought of when considering prefabricated building design.
The plane of existence between design and build is often at odds with each other because of inherently different philosophies. Falling Waters admires Marmol Radziner + Associates for their pioneering of the design-build cohesion that exists within their company and we also strive to meld our vision and design to the work that we actually build. We feel like we hold our own within that context of designing modern inclined landscapes that push boundaries and coalesce the design build gap that exists in our industry.
You all should check out this book that describes the design-build process through many of their projects and that we find to be pretty awesome and within our philosophy that we should “extend our design process into the craft of production.”