The Jerde Partnership’s studio in Venice Beach, Calif., faces directly out on the Pacific. When the firm moved here in 1990, it left a historic Red Car electrical substation on Sunset Boulevard. “It took a few years for there to be a patina on this place to give it the experience,” says David Rogers, AIA, partner and design co-director. “But Venice Beach is the most culturally dynamic, ethnically diverse place in the world. It’s a wonderful human experience.”

Although the Jerde Partnership has offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, Seoul, South Korea, and Shanghai, the firm’s design work happens at its Los Angeles headquarters. Senior design staff are assigned to every project, which is reviewed by the entire group and reflects the opinions of the office as a whole. Design work happens on the road, though: When the designers travel to pitch projects to clients, they build a three-dimensional model on site to demonstrate some proposals. “We bring foam-cutters with us and build a studio within the client’s office,” Rogers says.