JH: You are based out of Venice and in your own words “create designs that positively impact the community”. How does green / sustainable practices play a role in how you approach a project?
MR: I try to incorporate as many green features as I can into my designs. I have solar panels of course, some projects have green roofs that can capture stormwater runoff and keep the building cooler. I’m now in the process of incorporating a software tool which can predict the energy performance of a design during the early stages of a project so the client and I can make better decisions more quickly.
JH: What are the greatest challenges you have when designing a new project?
MR: Quite often the most challenging part is appeasing neighbors, City officials, and the client all at the same time. For me, once I get through all those hurdles, construction becomes the fun part because the dream finally becomes reality.
JH: Who inspired you most?
MR: I’m more inspired by the old masters of history rather than the latest design trends. There’s a reason certain designs from 50 or 100 years ago still seem fresh and interesting. The Case Study Houses in LA are obviously a big influence for their timeless indoor/outdoor feel, but I am also obsessed with 20th century architecture in Latin America and Europe for how they responded to their particular culture and climate.
JH: Can you tell us about your own home? Was it designed by you?
MR: Yes, I recently completed my own home in Venice, CA. I was wearing all hats of architect, owner and general contractor. It was an amazing experience that I really enjoyed. It was also extremely challenging building a basement in ground water, and pouring hundreds of yards of concrete to create a unique structure that will hopefully stand the test of time. Soon, it will have solar panels and storage batteries to enable it to use very little if almost no power from the grid and be self sufficient during a natural disaster.
JH: What would you like to be remembered for when it comes to your work?
MR: Architecture is at its best when you have subconscious reaction to a space or a building that makes you pause and enjoy the thought and care that has gone into the design. I hope everyone who lives in or visits my designs feels that way at every turn.
JH: What is one intelligent feature or trend that you’re seeing or using in your designs?
MR: I try not be too trendy so that the flooring or siding going on today is out of style tomorrow. Studying history and making note of what still holds up over time is really important. A trend that I am trying to follow though of course is to make sure all of our buildings use less energy and don’t contribute to climate change.
JH: What is one thing you’d like the general public to know about your job?
MR: As an architect I have to be the ultimate generalist. In any given day, I have to speak to homeowners, engineers, City planners, contractors, suppliers, lawyers, politicians, and the list goes on. My greatest skill is being the conductor of the orchestra that is design and construction.