Since it began seeking out commercial and institutional projects 15 years ago, Ehrlich Architects has maintained a remarkably high design quality across all its work. Founder Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, got his start doing houses, and he continues to participate in the design of his firm’s custom homes and multifamily projects. “My first love is residential,” he says. He does so in collaboration with managing principal Takashi Yanai, AIA, head of the company’s residential studio. Two more managing principals, Charles “Duke” Oakley, FAIA, and Thomas E. Zahlten, AIA, oversee the firm’s many campus, government, mixed-use, and commercial projects. Ehrlich Architects also has ventured into design/build on some of its larger jobs, giving it yet another area of expertise.
Its standout residential portfolio contains a plethora of private houses, including Ehrlich’s own, much-published 700 Palms Residence. (Fellow ra50 architect Ted Flato, FAIA, told us he covets the house for himself.) Larger-scale residential projects include the just-completed Nankang Towers in Taipei, Taiwan. “Bigger projects are engaged with the fabric of a neighborhood, community, or city,” Ehrlich says. “And that’s exciting.”
The firm has won many honors, including the American Institute of Architects California Council’s 2003 Firm Award, and consistently pursues innovative, sustainable design strategies. Notes Ehrlich: “The culture of our practice is really strong. We have so many solid, terrific people who really have a voice in the collaborative process.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
Embarking on the journey with our clients of designing their home and, in turn, establishing life-long friendships.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
In all our designs, we strive to extend the traditions of California modernism through an approach that fuses new technologies with cultural and environmental sensitivity. The designs fuse indoor and outdoor space, connecting us to nature and each other.
What software does your firm use?
We have been fully integrated into Revit since 2005.
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?
If I’m alive and kicking, I would definitely make the time. But if you had to bring me back from the dead, Antonio Gaudí.