Lehrer Architects transformed the 7,300-square-foot, 50-year-old warehouse building into a working space of light, air, and transparency.
Although the office would specifically house architects, the firm designed a multi-purpose space that simply and clearly honors the rudiments of work: vast work surfaces, massive natural light, seamless connections to the landscape and fresh air, generous storage, and clearly individuated workstations that add up to a coherent, palpable group. Immediately drawn into the architecture, the visitor realizes that it is about the beauty of making architecture.
The project just received the 2008 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture from the national organization of The American Institute of Architects, which was recently announced.
Los Angeles-based Lehrer Architects—founded in 1985 by Michael B. Lehrer, FAIA—is located in the culturally diverse and artistically active neighborhood of Silver Lake, minutes from where Lehrer grew up. The office creates architecture, planning, and interiors for community centers, cultural institutions, houses of worship, multi-tenant/mixed-use developers, and private residential clients.
“We all want to work there,” stressed the AIA National Awards jury. “It’s a spatial yet collaborative setting encouraging visual resourcing. The transition of a neglected structure into a vibrant, happy experience encourages inventiveness.” Only 28 projects—out of 800—were National AIA Award winners.
Highly committed to how art and play inform a practice, Lehrer recently created the Research and Development (RaD) Room. The RaD Room is an in-house workshop created for designers to experiment with materials, create full-scale mockups, play with new concepts, and test ideas. All Lehrer Architects designers are encouraged to create and play on a daily basis. The space succeeds as an open, collaborative working lab for creative design, as well as for events.
The office plays host to community events, drawing classes, and municipal design reviews. As an architect whose work is largely influenced by art, Lehrer recently instituted bi-weekly life-drawing classes in the office. All office staff, as well as consultants, friends, and fellow architects, are invited to the three-hour sessions. “We get a lovely array of people—some who have never picked up a pencil, and others who have been drawing all their lives,” notes Lehrer, who begins the class with a short lesson and discussion. “The live model gives the architects in the room the needed perspective of how space relates to people.”
The naturally lit office inspired the 2007 Silver Lake Film Festival to hold its “Sustainable LA” panel discussion and party at Lehrer Architects. Easily accommodating some 200 audience members, the space held a lively panel discussion that included entertainment personalities Ed Begley, Jr., Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”), and Alicia Silverstone, in addition to Lehrer and other environmental specialists.