Solar-powered architecture

More exciting news from the front lines of sustainable design that only a few years ago would seem futuristic. Elon Musk, the founder of innovative Tesla, promises that the recently developed materials and technologies would bring the cost of electricity-generating solar roof down to a point where it would actually be cheaper to install a roof of solar panels than go with the good ole traditional structure. Musk then specified that this cost would include the labor costs and not take in subsidies for solar.

In Musk’s own words:“It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof actually cost less than normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account. So the basic proposition would be ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity’ why would you get anything else.”

The other great thing about the Tesla solar roofing concept is the decided improvement in the aesthetics department  – rather than taking the usual form of an unwieldy solar panel, the Tesla solar cells would be encased in glass and shaped like tiles, allowing for easy integration into the residential architecture and helping grow the popularity of environmentally friendly building practices. Check out the story and take a look at the design gallery here.

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our future homes (maybe)

Hirsuta/Arch Out Loud

This undulating, gently rotating capsule fits right in the LA futuristic architecture canon.  Devised in response to the site-specific “Hollywood” design competition put out by architectural research group Arch Out Loud, the proposed structure answers the call to “demonstrate the use of innovative technology, integrative environmental strategies, and capitalize on the iconic prominence of its site beneath the famed Hollywood sign”.

The contest came about when the owner of the land, Steve Alper, recognized the potential of the location as a space for new iconography; indeed the architecture along Mulholland drive is very much defined by 20th century architectural thought, and what better place to set a beacon of the future than beneath the letters spelling out the word that came to stand for the world of dream and fiction.

The winning proposal was put forth by LA based firm Hirsuta, that “privileges the role of matter in design process” and focuses on the sensory experience of space ie how the space feels rather than what it is. The design, while tackling sustainability and addressing the senses of inhabitants – the house would be powered by solar panels and the ( very slow) rotation would provide a different view each season, also takes the idea of a smart home to a new level: with a photovoltaic “breathing” skin that responds to the environment and movement synched with the motion of earth, it’s almost a creature in it’s own right,  with something approaching an agenda that seeks to harmonize the environment and the human.

Whether we are ready for such radical redefinition of residential housing remains to be seen, but “The Ambivalent House” is certainly a curious foray into a technological utopia. Imagining seeing this home in the MLS database made us smile.

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Our Atwater Village listing in the news

Very honored to have our Atwater Village listing at 3134 Glenmanor Place featured as the Home of the Day in the LA Times. A beautiful home, this stylishly updated Spanish Bungalow also boasts an amazing location – an easy commute toHollywood, Glendale, Burbank and Downtown LA, plus all the neighborhood favorites from Proof Bakery to Bon Vivant Market & Cafe are practically at your doorstep.

The renovated bungalow maintains its Spanish-style roots in the exterior arches and red tile roof. (Charmaine David)

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An unconventional “Open House”

Archpaper reports on a wonderful public art project by Los Angeles artist Liz Glynn, called Open House. Referencing the opulent interiors of Manhattan’s Gilded Age homes, Glynn placed a concrete replica of  baroque chintz-upholstered furniture in the middle of the sidewalk in Central Park, for use and enjoyment of all passersby. According to Archpaper, the artist’s choice to make her functional sculptures out of concrete was informed by “its associations with working-class modernist housing”, making evident Glynn’s intention in highlighting the contrast between the upscale form and everyday material, and relating the real estate history of New York to the present day. Open House is on view at Doris C. Freedman Plaza through September 24th; here’s a glimpse of the work from Glynn’s website (the installation must look rather different today with Stella the blizzard having made a snowy landing just this morning.)

Open House, 2017 Public Art Fund, Installation view Photo: James Ewing


Open House, 2017 Public Art Fund, Installation view Photo: James Ewing


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Our Echo Park Listing in the LA Times

The first day of spring brings some great news! Our listing, A Stunning Spanish Home in the Hills of Echo Park, just made it to the Home of the Day section of the LA Times.  Truly a beautiful home in a great location, take a look at the story and come visit our Open House this Sunday, March 5th from 2-4pm. at 1521 Parmer Ave. 90026. See you there!

The tidy Spanish-style house in Echo Park takes in panoramic city and hillside views. (Charmaine David)

The tidy Spanish-style house in Echo Park takes in panoramic city and hillside views. (Charmaine David)

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Mapping LGBT history in LA

A moving geographic essay about the local LGBTQ history over at CurbedLA, by Bianca Barragan. Delve in and watch the LA map come alive with site-specific stories of Angelenos, told through the buildings and places that played important roles in the 20th century LGBTQ rights movement.  Some structures no longer exist, yet some remain, like the home of the Tom of Finland Foundation, a 1921 Craftsman in Echo Park that received the LA Historic-Cultural Monument status just last year.  If you are keen on learning more, we recommend a visit to the fantastic collection (also included on the CurbedLA map) of the One Archives Gallery & Museum, permanently hosted at the USC Library in West Adams.

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Millennials: to buy or not to buy?

Millennial home buying trends have been the subject of much industry scrutiny in recent years. Some claim that the touted urban lifestyle is but a passing phase, that it will lose its allure, and that millennials will follow the steps of their parents and move to the suburbs when the time comes to start a family. Others speculate that co-living and sharing housing became the norm for so many young people that it disrupted the very idea of homeownership, with people increasingly delaying buying into their thirties.

Our guess is that the truth is somewhere in the middle- there will be those that will move to the suburbs and those that will remain loyal to the urban hub. Regardless of the the route one takes, the benefits of owning a home are indisputable, and the earlier one gets into the market, the better. And if that seems a mere dream, we are happy to bring you the news that according to this story, owning a home before 30 is an actual possibility. The author, Sharon St. John, does a great job of demystifying the journey to homeownership by parsing it into a series of smart, manageable, and even fun steps. Head over to to read the article and get inspired, and if you are thinking of buying a home or would like to discuss your goals, do get in touch.



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CurbedLA: Q&A with Tracy Do

A few days ago CurbedLA invited Tracy to be a guest on the Friday Open Thread- a weekly forum in which readers gather to discuss topics of interest and ask questions of the invited experts. Tracy got to answer some great questions about the neighborhoods we serve – here is a fragment of the chat with Tracy and Jenna Chandler of CurbedLA, discussing the merits of buying homes in some of ours favorite North East LA areas. To get more of Tracy’s insight and to read the whole conversation, head over here.

Jenna Chandler:

Tracy, thank you so much for joining us! We’ve heard Cypress Park and Glassell Park are going to be this year’s “it” neighborhoods. Are you seeing interest peak in those neighborhoods right now? And what do you think the appeal is?

Tracy Do:

Absolutely interest is peaking in Glassell Park and Cypress Park, for the reason that they are well-located neighborhoods that are adjacent to already-established enclaves. Both are directly adjacent or at least very near to Atwater Village, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Mt. Washington. Downtown is close, as are Echo Park and Silver Lake. It’s a nice option for buyers, especially as prices everywhere are climbing. These two neighborhoods represent a nice opportunity for buyers looking to get into the housing market.



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Neutra VDL House

Great news about the Neutra VDL House being named a National Historic Landmark. As announced by U.S. Department of the Interior’s: “The Neutra Studio and Residences (VDL Research House) in Los Angeles, California, is associated with Richard Neutra, a nationally and internationally seminal figure of the twentieth century Modern movement in architecture. During the 1940s, as Neutra’s work evolved, he also became the well-recognized founder of mid-century “California Modern” architecture. The VDL Research House is the only property where one can see the progression of his style over a period of years and is among the key properties to understanding the national significance of Richard Neutra.”

Here’s the old master himself, at 74, sitting on the VDL House II deck, deep in thought before the landscape.

Photo by Julius Shulman, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute.

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