Lopez Architects Cutting-Edge Contemporary Design
WRITTEN BY: Chris Stevens
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Lopez Architects
Whoa! That was the first word uttered from a confidential international client’s mouth after first laying eyes on David Lopez’s proposed design of a high-end custom luxury home in the Hollywood Hills.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. True, yet architects know they hit the bull’s eye designing a dream home when only a few powerful words of joy flow from a client’s mouth after seeing an architectural rendering. Equally impressive is the fact that Partner David Lopez, B. Arch, of Lopez Architects, immediately responded to this client’s short notice end-of-year deadline which meant he worked long hours over the past Christmas holiday.
When opportunity knocks, professionals not only open the door but create one if necessary. In the case of this proposed $18 million home, the client immediately purchased the vacant land for the Hollywood Hills estate based on the stunning rendering Lopez created.
David said it best: “If you work hard there is a payoff, not in money but in client satisfaction.”
Soaring with Unknown Creativity
Although there was no doubt speaking with David that he has fond memories of his introduction to architecture as an intern, it wasn’t until later that a Professor prodded him to consciously build up his confidence to explore the full palate of what architecture had to offer.
A young David was exposed to the general contractor bidding processes through a close mentor Bernie Cooper, while witnessing the technical aspects of architecture thanks to his father Craig Lopez, AIA.
Barbara Romero, David’s mother, manages the accounting books for several construction companies. She introduced David to Bernie, and soon after David went to work for him.
David spread his creativity wings farther than he ever thought possible at SCI Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture), his alma mater. It was here that a Professor and others he fraternized with, helped open the proverbial window of creative design much wider, thus enabling David’s talent to blossom.
A Lopez Legacy
David’s father Craig has been a practicing professional since 1978, opening Lopez Architects, AIA, in 1983. During his internship with his father, David witnessed Craig’s exceptional technical competence firsthand. Back in his early 20s, David’s decision to follow the advice of mentor Bernie and follow his father’s architecture career was the planting of a talent seed that grew into David’s design prowess.
Despite David and his father graduating from separate colleges (SCI-Arc and Cal Poly, respectfully) they both share a strong bond and love of architecture as evident in their personal style, projects, and respect earned from other professionals.
Brett, David’s younger brother, represents his own talent looking to make his mark in architecture. Being in his 20s, Brett is excelling with David’s initial guidance into drafting and beyond. David mentioned that he sees similarities with his own past in architecture working with Brett allowing spontaneous moments of professional exploration and further growth. Now, as an established partner, David appreciates the younger years when he was an “outsider” looking in while on the path to finding his true architectural talent.
Built on relationships, the Lopez legacy has been building for decades and from the looks of a long history of built and current renderings, the future is limitless.
Sometimes, taking a quick look back helps solidify the present while opening creative doors to the future. With many projects on the books David fondly recalls his early projects, declaring they are “…a piece of me…” – always to be remembered.
The Great Recession ushered in big changes for David. During this time he met with then client RC Thornton, a long-time real estate developer in the Southern California area. It started as a client relationship, then turned into a collaborative partnership and now they are great friends.
“The Paseo” house in Los Angeles was their first joint creation that included a pavilion on the facade for prominence. With about 2,900 sq.ft., it was valued at $1.2 million expanding to two stories. The “Martha” house followed in Van Nuys, CA with 3,000 sq.ft. all on one level. At $1.45 million, the spacious deck and pool/spa area are surrounded by spectacular movable glass walls.
Currently, they are on their sixth project together. RC Thornton has been an instrumental mentor and inspiration in helping David shape and hone his contemporary architectural style and design.
“Resort living, that’s what I want” chimed the client.
Resort Living at Home
And that’s exactly what the client got when David poured his passion into the design of a $28 million 14,000 sq.ft. project.
Also, incorporating a nine-car garage as a focal point is not what most architects have in mind when planning the layout of a premier luxury home. You do when the client has a multi-million dollar automobile collection he wants to put on display. David literally turned design fundamentals on their head by taking a spark of an idea and exalting it to the heights of creativity.
Here’s how he did it:
Connection among spaces and the natural flow between them is critical in architecture. While some rooms are meant to give off a warm feeling, others are cooler by nature depending on their core purpose within the luxury residence. Including the rooftop deck, the “Summit” home has four levels that seamlessly transition to the slightly sloped ground level.
The infinity pool serves double duty as a functional element and in an unexpectedly aesthetic way. Both the lower and first levels benefit from the flowing characteristic of water that ties them together in a most relaxing manner. Strategically laid out in an “L” shape, the infinity pool has two spillovers, one of which acts as a soft visual and physical transition to the outdoors from the garage.
This spillover is a waterfall wall and work of art at the same time – simplicity at its brilliant best.
An open stairway gracefully guides guests from the pool deck to this showroom. The term “garage” just doesn’t do justice. Think “automotive art gallery” as a more appropriate description for an area that includes a revolving vehicle platform to display a $1+ million prized car, glass walls, discrete secondary kitchen, maids quarters, butlers quarters, secure panic-room, wine cellar and spectacular spillover waterfall as a visual focal point looking out into the backyard.
From top to bottom, this Beverly Hills stunning beauty surrounds its owner with resort-like living without ever leaving home.
Contemporary Luxury Living
Contemporary home design enables a strong connection with the surrounding environment. Framing the best aspects of landscape views through unique design elements merges build creation with nature.
Like Lopez Architect’s amazed international client proved, a unique design paired with a scenic location, gets attention as is meant to be – awe inspiring. Just one look at the rendering is all it takes to see why the client reacted with a big “Whoa!” expression. Almost a full two sides of the dynamic “Oakshire” luxury home has shimmering spillovers. When left to itself, the top pool becomes still, mirror-like in nature, enabling it to reflect gentle light rays on and into areas of the home in a Zen-like manner. The lower water retention area walls were artfully covered in stone to complement the surrounding mountainous landscape.
The property features wrap around decks with glass panel railings allowing unrestricted views whether from the deck itself or looking out from the homes many floor to ceiling picture windows. Several of these huge picture windows not only rise from floor to ceiling but span the entire width of the room making for a seamless visual connection to the outside world.
No wonder the client made an on-the-spot decision to purchase this vacant land for this true gem of a luxury residence he can see himself living in.
It took Lopez Architect’s “Macapa Dr.” home design about three and a half years to secure final approval from the local zoning and planning committee. Seeing the $8 million 4,800 sq. ft. custom home stretched across its lot in the Hollywood Hills, there is no doubt the entire process was well worth it.
As expected, both stories of the main structure include plenty of window space with several floor-to-ceiling corner windows as featured design elements. In between the main house and 1,200 sq.ft. Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), three flights of stairs all lead to a large open deck. A sunken lounge area below the deck is an open design. The ADU enjoys its own sliding glass doors to a private deck with a uniformly surfaced walk way leading to the main residence.
This five bedroom and five bathroom contemporary design situated the two-story main quarters on a slightly sloped hill to make the most out of the topography. Structural connections, design techniques, materials, and color were all synergistically utilized to create distance yet maintain cohesiveness of the long rectangular layout.
The first glance is not enough to truly appreciate the arrangement of structural elements. Aspects of both spatial unity and spatial definition play well off each other, while ultimately melding together the cohesiveness of the property.
“Ones thought process needs to flow and be open to ideas. Moving forward, sometimes pushing forward brings forth new possibilities.”
Partner and Lead Designer – Lopez Architects
Go Green Express Car Wash Concept
Like a pleasant warm summer breeze it was refreshing to discover David’s devotion to projects, including commercial properties such as an express car wash concept in Tustin, CA.
Reaching back to his SCI Arc experience, David stated he was instilled with the fact that “…you need a reason why you create specific forms.” And so it was with the Go Green Express Car Wash commercial property where “form follows function” is paramount. Not only must the client (and city) approve the design, customers will be the ultimate judges of the property’s utility on a daily basis, thus determining its profitability as a business.
The express wash concept directly delivered a customized self-serve experience that customers demand. Sure, a high detail washes and clean is wonderful and has its place but the reality is more people don’t have time for a thirty-five minute affair as David described.
Responding to these realities, David utilized a cantilevered parking covering to enhance the efficiency of traffic flow for the property layout.
Such a covering guarantees plenty of shade from the sun, significantly reduces fender-benders, eases ingress and egress, and eliminates maintenance costs related to multi-columned structures. In addition, extended as well as wrapped roof lines on the main building add instant visual appeal with a cool green color tone.
David’s design will improve efficiency by cutting an average customers wait time, from an average of 35 minutes, down to just 15 minutes. A second location is already in the works. You may soon see these Go Green Express Car Washes popping up all over Southern California, and then possibly nationwide.
Works of Art = Word Of Mouth
All of the many properties David Lopez shared with us told their own exceptional story while supporting Lopez Architect’s belief in “solid design sensitivity.”
While sharing his designs, David recalled that as a young student he wasn’t confident that architecture was “…really for me.” It’s as if he felt like an outsider looking in. Today, as a tremendously talented architect and successful partner, it is clear his work embodies the sense of a mind that virtually “walks” a project on the inside resulting in a work of art as seen from the outside.
Lopez Architects was generations in the making. No overnight success story here, simply perseverance and excellence backed by integrity, year in and year out. That is what keeps David continually moving forward serving a wide range of clients with full service architectural, space planning and interior design services.
When asked where his clients come from, David told us, “Word of mouth. They see our existing work and they want it for themselves.”
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