This Makes Me Feel Like an Archeologist


This is going to go against everything I (think) I believe in but lately I’m finding the concept of ordering a house design from a catalog pretty cool. I’m not saying ‘Do it’. I’m just saying it’s interesting.

It all started this morning when my daughter asked me what my house looked like when I was growing up. I started drawing the floor plan for her (which is how we communicate in our house, by drawing floor plans) when I realized how logical the house was planned. Everything fit together like a tidy little puzzle.  I’m pretty certain my parents ordered these plans from a book. My grandfather was a builder and he could knock these out pretty fast back in the 60s and 70s. I’m guessing he built it. I should ask.

We have had the opportunity to remodel two catalog/kit houses. Right now, we are working on a remodel (down to the bones with some major restructuring) in Los Feliz Estates. This is a planned community that in the 1960's advertised various styles (Traditional, ‘Timeless’....whuuuut?, Oriental, Ranch, and Modern) to potential buyers to fill up the tract. And indeed, today, when you are driving around there, you see all of these styles. Grecian statues with cypress next to eastern influenced rock gardens. Our particular project must have been sort of a re-worked Modern when comparing it to the online historical data.  This area is changing as my clients can attest. The sweeping views from downtown to the ocean make it worth it and Griffith Park is walking distance. I mean, who gets to walk in LA? It’s pretty special.

The second one I'm thinking about was a few years ago. We did a major overhaul to a three story kit house  in Topanga Canyon. The home had been ordered by the previous owner from Lindal Homes. Lindal is still in business and thriving today. They have new designs and seem to be good quality. Because this particular home was in a very high fire zone, we were required to envelope the entire structure and make it fireproof. So now, it is a house inside a house. Very odd but it works. And it’s much safer considering its location. And its waaaaay more modern looking and functional. 

My favorite part of being in the architecture business is I get to see a good amount of demolition. Demolition is probably my favorite phase of construction because you finally get to clear out all the structural clutter and get a feel for the newly opened space that you had envisioned. The feeling is positive.  Anyway, one of the neatest things about demo is everything you find underneath the plaster or drywall. We regularly uncover old notes or drawings on the framing, or newspapers dated from the time in which the building was originally built (sometimes used as in-a-pinch insulation). Reading the old advertisements or articles makes you stop your busy day and sit down among the debris and feel like an archeologist for a blip of time.

Looking through the plans in the Sears Modern Home Catalog gives me a similar feeling.

Despite all this talk, I think it’s most important that your building responds to its immediate environment. And I believe we don’t have much of a responsibility to recreate the past in any way through architecture. But as a floor plan nut, it has been fun to go back and look at pages and pages of floor plans. For me, its as satisfying as reading poetry.




Digging your Landscape


This weekend I spent 5 hours hand cutting grass with a pair of kitchen scissors in my pajamas. I really didn’t know what I was getting into but it was looking so good, I kept going. It allowed me to spend a lot of time in my garden and to really get to know it. It’s a new garden designed by Jeff Lindfors at LPO inc and we are in the initial encouragement/nurture phase as these new plants fall into their first dormancy on the property.

We bought a major fixer in Topanga Canyon and after the remodel Jeff was in charge of landscape design and site restoration. We have done a number of projects together so we left it up to him with complete trust.  It has been a big ongoing job but it’s all coming in beautifully. He has taught us to see a garden as an ongoing painting that continuously evolves and that we need to be the primary participant in the painting… so there I was with the scissors. Anyone who knows me knows I take direction with zeal and to a fault.

I am realizing the importance of mixing plant shapes, leaf size, texture, and color with contrasting (or not) pieces to create a balance in the landscape. Harmonious balance of shapes and space in architecture would be the equivalent I suppose but landscape is so much cooler because it’s a living thing that’s constantly changing. How amazing is that? And it thrives on love and attention.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about the landscape and hardscape (pathways, driveway, pool, trellises, fencing etc.) in the beginning of the project, not the end. Ask your landscape designer to work hand in hand with your architect to develop a master plan for the site so that land and building can harmonize.  Building size, shape, orientation and land topography will inform size, color, and texture of your new garden and outdoor entertainment areas. A major benefit when including landscape/hardscape early on is that you can get an idea what the ‘complete’ project will cost. Don’t let your landscape budget be ‘whatever is left over at the end’….cause that ain’t never gonna happen. You need to plan ahead.

A full architectural survey will be needed for both the architect and landscape designer. A good survey is worth its’ weight in gold and they are not all the same so have your architect help in choosing a good team.

All of the money, planning, mud and dust, delivery trucks, and people will be well worth it in the end.

Have a great day ya’ll-






Things That Keep Us Awake at Night


I have a reoccurring dream that I’m walking through a house that I’m pretty siked about. It’s not nice but THE POTENTIAL IS HUGE! There are all kinds of strange little rooms and hallways that need fixing and re-organizing. Usually the house goes on and on horizontally but lately, it’s vertical. Recently it was haunted on the fifth floor and on the sixth floor, one will find a very old woman looking out toward the sea. It’s just a mess up there. She always keeps the windows open and the rain drizzles in. I’m concerned about water intrusion and general dampness. Maybe I’ll work on that tonight.

Anyway, if you are an architect, you will understand this but if you are not, being an architect, as awesome as it is, can be, shall I say, a bit stressful at times. Being a contractor on top of that, can down right keep you up at night. Knowing you have a crew walking around on rooftops  all day with skill saws in their hands, having project meetings with Owners RIGHT NEXT TO an open 60’ deep caisson pit (I have no idea why there is a tendency to walk over and look in but everyone does), even the scaffolding is terrifying once you have been in the business for a while.

….and every time I have to use a port-a-potty, I think, ‘What if I fall in?’ It’s mesmerizing.

But I would have to say, my biggest fear is pulling up to a job site after framing starts and realizing, HS-this looks terrible.  I REALLY don’t want that to ever happen.

Look for our 'Interviews with Aaron' section coming soon....



Design-Build, really?

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an interview for a remodel /addition for a home in Studio City. We had a really nice chat about the concept of Design-Build and she said that it seemed like we work differently from other Design-Build firms with whom she had met. And it made me realize, Design-Build is getting a bad rap.

When Aaron and I started our firm, we had fairly recently just finished the Master’s program at Southern California Institute of Architecture. I had been working in architecture for a few years before going to SCI-Arc and knew I wanted to go into the design side of architecture. But for Aaron, it was very different. In no way was he going to sit in an office, sometimes for 15 hours straight, and stare into a computer. His plan was to be an ‘outside architect’. So, that basically means he is going to be a highly qualified builder.  He worked for a while for other contractors to learn the basics and then we dove in with our own firm in 2005. Our plan was to establish a group that could keep a better handle on the quality of construction while at the same time, allow the architect more flexibility in the field. For the most part, over the past 12 years, this has worked beautifully.  Aaron gets to be outside and still live in a world of architecture and I get to have sort of my own private building club. The projects move faster, stay closer to budget, and look better (we think).

So, we are a Design-Build firm that is very architecture oriented. In my meeting, I realized many people think of Design-Build groups as contractors that provide a design service, and a pretty limited design service at that. But here in our office, we are primarily architects that provide a construction service. And I think there is a big difference there that shows up in the project. One of my favorite professors at SCI-Arc (Coy Howard) once told me, ‘You can only ruin a building at the very beginning of a project and at the very end’.  He is so right. You have to get the flow of space and the massing of the building correct straight off the bat or you are doomed. You have to be VERY concerned about design from the beginning.

I know there are other Design-Build firms out there like us who focus in a design-first sort of way but there are many more of the other type. The hope is that we differentiate ourselves through our portfolio but I wonder….Could there be another name for what we do? How do you convey to a prospective client that you LOVE design, all you THINK about is design, you LIVE design…in your marketing material.


Happy New Year!

2018 is looking like it will be filled with a great set of projects and clients!

We are starting off the year with four projects under construction in Los Feliz, Hollywood, Santa Monica Canyon, and Mount Washington. We have two design projects on the boards that should begin construction this summer. We can't wait to see those break ground in Studio City and (finally!) what we call 'the new Culver City': Woodland Hills.

Our goal for this year is to make projects that are more integrated into the landscape. Whether they be on a flat lot in Venice or up here in the canyon, we want our buildings to more closely harmonize with nature, as though they have been in their settings for decades. We will be focusing on landscape design earlier in the design process and making sure a larger portion of the project budget is allocated to this final and important touch.

Another focus this year is growing our firm. We are looking to add at least one more architect and one more Site Supervisor. If you know of any amazing people, please send them our way.

Happy New Year! 

-Aaron and Britt Glynn




Work In Progress

One of our new projects in Topanga is almost ready for photography. GLYNNdesignbuild loved working on this property. The views are amazing. The home required extensive structural and safety upgrades. We changed the home stylistically as well in an effort to help it melt into the landscape more. We used steel, glass, and integrated color stucco. Inside, the materials were left simple as well: tile, wood, and steel. The entire property is being landscaped and rehabilitated by Jeff Lindfors' office LPO inc. More pics coming soon.