Michael Lee Architects
2200 Highland Avenue in Manhattan Beach | 310-545-5771 | email@example.com | mleearchitects.com
Photographed by Marisa Guzman-Aloia
When did you start your business in the South Bay?
“I worked with Dean Nota for several years prior to opening my own company in 1991. Dean was a great mentor. My firm is now comprised of six people, including four architects and two office administrators. Our work is 75% residential, but we are starting to do more commercial work. We’ve also seen substantial activity in the remodeling sector, and that has been a great market for us in the South Bay area. We are a multi-disciplinary firm, so we offer interior design and construction management services in addition to our architectural services.”
Describe the traditional Gervais home.
“The Gervais house was one of my first projects, but it’s one of my most prized projects. It was a very small house that we remodeled in the El Segundo area. We went down to the studs on the project because everything needed to be redone. We added a wrap-around front porch and introduced a vocabulary of white trim and gray shingles. The house is simple, clean and traditional in style, but with a modern spirit. The neighborhood has seen great rejuvenation, and this house was on the forefront of that process. Though it’s not the most expensive or the largest house we’ve designed, it combined creativity, low cost and traditional neighborhood-friendly design features in a manner that rejuvenated both the house and the neighborhood.”
Describe the vernacular of your architectural practice.
“Most importantly, good design is good design. We work in a number of different styles, including both modern and traditional. While those styles are different, the strength of a good project is in finding the true language for that project and designing well within that vocabulary. We’ve been fortunate to create a portfolio of work in both genres. I describe our traditional design as more of a `clean traditional.’ That is, it has traditional influences, such as moldings, columns and porches, but the lines are simple and clean. Second, we now design everything on a computer, so we are able to create a three-dimensional process for the client. This has helped tremendously for clients are able to truly visualize the final project, and that permits us to make any necessary changes while still in the design process. When you can do a walk-through with a builder or a client prior to the actual completion of the project, it’s a great asset.”
Describe the 9th Street residence.
“The 9th Street residence is a modern home done with a palette of beautiful natural materials. It is another favorite project of mine. We designed it as if it were a piece of sculpture. The front of the house is a sophisticated composition of materials, shapes and forms. It’s a great example of a well-done modern home that’s both warm and inviting. A large percentage of our work is for modern homes, and it’s important to me that these homes have strong sculptural elements with clean, defined lines. Using quality materials ensures that the project is elevated both in design and aesthetics.”