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Located in downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena is known in architectural circles for its fusion of Victorian and art deco homes. The architecture is diverse, perhaps best described as a mix of urban and suburban. The city is regarded as one of the best places to live in California and houses numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.
This list compiles ten of the best residential architects in Pasadena. They were culled from a long list of firms working in the area, and after our editorial team took an extensive look at the work histories, affiliations, and previous projects. Several of these firms offer unique services and incorporate innovative solutions into their designs that only they can exclusively offer. A handful of the firms on this list are the architects and designers behind some of the area’s most recognizable, award-winning homes.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
25 S El Molino Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
CM Peck specializes in architecture, civil engineering, and structural engineering. The firm is led by Chris Peck, the firm’s founder who has expanded its project range to include commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use projects. The firm has secured partnerships with some of the best architects and designers across the Los Angeles Area and beyond. Prior to his establishment of the firm, Peck first gained experience in high rise structures with a firm in New York and London, in addition to civil engineering and architectural design with a company in Los Angeles. Under his leadership, CM Peck has been distinguished with numerous awards such as the 2019 Westside Urban Forum Design Award and the 2017 Pasadena Heritage Award for Historic Preservation. The firm has been published in magazines like Architectural Digest and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. As a result, the firm has secured a presence across Southern California and maintains affiliations with organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the US Green Building Council.
Originally a Pueblo style home, the featured project depicts one of the firm’s contemporary homes. This high-end luxury house features excellent indoor and outdoor spaces, spacious terraces, multiple lounges, spas, and wonderful views of the area.
DS Ewing Architects
723 E California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106
Located in Pasadena California, D.S. Ewing Architects, Inc is known as a diverse design firm capable of master planning and architectural design of any project type and style. The firm provides a complete range of design services in house including master planning, landscape design, exterior and interior architectural design, finishes, furniture, and fixture design for all projects.
The firm has designed projects in 26 states and abroad. Their goals are to design sustainable, efficient solutions functionally and aesthetically in conformance with the budget and immediate environment.
The firm has received multiple design and honor awards from the AIA, in addition to several noteworthy national awards such as a Chrysalis Award for one of its entire house remodels. It has also been featured in publications like Qualified Remodeler and Remodeling Magazine as well as several books.
The featured project is a 7,000 s.f. rustic post and beam guest lodge in Montana on a 4,500 acre ranch. The lodge was designed using fire killed logs, reclaimed slate roofing, and indigenous moss rock from the ranch. The lodge was sited on a natural swales with no grading or tree removal. The structure is highly crafted with influences from the national parks rustic and arts and crafts styles.
845 Mission St., S Pasadena, CA 91030
Established in 2004, George Architecture offers a full range of design services for a variety of markets. It specializes in historic preservations, and its expertise for traditional architecture and design is known and respected. It utilizes stylistic problem-solving tenets and bases its processes on the AIA’s standard contracts and contract deliverables that involve schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding and negotiation, and construction administration. The firm draws inspiration from the work and craft of notable figures such as Wallace Neff, Myron Hunt, and Charles and Henry Greene. The firm is familiar with numerous architectural themes from craftsman to Mediterranean-style homes, but perhaps George Architecture is best known for its contemporary designs that adhere to Japanese modernist principles.
We were especially struck by a project the firm has named “Arroyo Collection.” In its former life it was a two-story office building; it has has been reincarnated as a fascinating residence, featuring its own sculpture garden, spacious kitchen and dining area, and a master bedroom.
The Arroyo Collection is an extremely unique remodel and addition to an existing two-story office building with an attached split-level commercial garage and storage building on Mission Street in South Pasadena. Our clients converted the downstairs office space to a fine art gallery, the commercial garage to an automobile collection and workshop, converted the upstairs office to a living-dining-kitchen, and added a 780 s.f. steel-and-glass split-level master suite and surrounding decks. The result is a breathtaking example of a modern design creating warmth, capturing natural light, and providing abundant outdoor space in what once was a commercial office complex.
300 S Raymond Ave. #18, Pasadena, CA 91105
HartmanBaldwin employs a design-build approach and specializes in historic restorations, home additions, and custom homes and extends its services throughout Orange County and Los Angeles County. Given its expertise for historic renovations, it is often the leading choice for projects that require a deep understanding of specific architectural styles. The firm has constructed and renovated some of the most beautiful homes around Southern California’s most historically significant areas. In 2018, it was named the 15th best remodeling company out of 550 firms ranked nationwide by Remodeling Magazine. Comprised of an award-winning team of architects, Certified Interior Designers, project managers, artisans, and craftsmen, the firm consistently demonstrates a flair for a wide array of designs, including contemporary, Tudor, English, Mediterranean, and traditionally-inspired architecture.
Depicted above is one of the firm’s best pieces of work. Spanning over 3,841 square feet, this project is a renovation of a 1931 Old English home into a contemporary themed house. It features the addition of a master suite and its very own conservatory that allows in a generous amount of natural light through its floor-to-ceiling windows and custom French doors.
James V. Coane and Associates, Architects
30 North Raymond Ave. Suite #611, Pasadena, CA 91103
James V. Coane + Associates, Architects specializes in custom residences and residential estates as well as expansions and historic renovations. On occasion, it also takes on apartment interiors, multi-family residential, retail, and corporate interior projects. The firm has completed projects throughout California and abroad and has consistently been recognized by the Pasadena Weekly. Several of its projects have been featured in magazines such as Architectural Digest, LA Architect, and the Los Angeles Times. Many of these projects have been used as film locations for movies and several television shows. The firm’s work is often distinguished by its excellent command and appreciation of modern and historical themes. The firm is also noted for its fine attention to detail and intimate interior and exterior details.
The chosen project is a 6,000 square-foot modern transitional home located on a large and flat plot of land in San Marino. It features a perfectly manicured Japanese garden and design inspired by the famous midwest Prairie Style houses of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
LCRA Architecture and Planning
One Colorado 35 Hugus Alley Suite #220, Pasadena, CA 91103
Comprised of a team of award-winning designers, LCRA provides a full range of design services for residential projects and for commercial and mixed-use work. The firm extends its services throughout the country and has also completed projects in Asia and the Middle East. One of the firm’s principals, Adeline Lim Chang, has led the firm to focus on housing projects for some of the country’s leading builders. Her background encompasses site planning and she leads the firm with Everardo Garcia, who oversees each of the firm’s projects locally and internationally.
Under their leadership, LCRA has been recognized with numerous industry awards including a number of Golden Nuggets. The firm has also been named among the Builder 100 and has had its work featured in publications like Dwell, Forbes.com, and Luxury Home Quarterly.
Studio Ren Architecture
1862 N Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104
Established in 2008, Studio Ren Architecture caters to both the commercial and residential market sectors. It specializes in new construction, renovations, and remodels and is known for its comprehensive plans. It assists clients throughout the entirety of a project from design all the way to preconstruction and also oversees construction. To this day, the firm maintains small operations to maintain this highly hands on approach. It is led by its founder Cynthia Wang, an architect with an extensive experience in terms of residential, retail, office, and hospitality projects. Under her leadership, the firm has secured a reputation for itself for its excellent command of modern and contemporary designs.
This is best embodied by the project above. For this home, the firm’s team opted for a recurring theme of straight lines coupled with natural elements such as wood and stone masonry. It also made use of large floor-to-ceiling windows to allow in a generous amount of ambient light, further complemented by several unique fixtures.
Swift Lee Office
543A S Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105
Headquartered in Pasadena, Swift Lee Office uses a collaborative and multidisciplinary design approach and offers a full range of services. That includes new construction designed specifically for net-zero energy, tenant improvements, home additions, and master planning, on top of its residential work. The firm also works with its own custom furniture and several other finishes, making its projects all the more personalized. The firm has been in the industry since 2000 and was founded by Gloria Lee and Nathan Swift. The two met while they were studying at Harvard Graduate School of Design and eventually started the firm in an artist’s complex somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. Its portfolio depicts a gallery of innovative and challenging spaces from an extensive range of markets. The firm has been widely recognized with a variety of awards from the AIA and several other award-giving bodies.
Depicted above is the Henderson Residence, located just eight miles outside of the Las Vegas Strip. The home features wonderful 180-degree panorama views of the area, open spaces, vertical courtyards, and contemporary designs.
Tyler + Kelly Architecture
139 S Hudson Ave. Suite #300, Pasadena, CA 91101
Launched in 1989, Tyler + Kelly Architecture provides a full range of architectural, landscape, and interior design services throughout Southern California. With the goal of translating client goals into personalized & sublime architectural compositions, our portfolio features a rich gallery of traditional and contemporary homes.
Tyler + Kelly also provides services to an array of government and development clients, producing high-quality Multi-Family Residential, Mixed-Use, Industrial, and Technology projects.
Seamless additions and renovations compliment this vintage 1930’s era Pasadena residence. The centerpiece of this project is a sumptuous and diversely landscaped garden, with great attention paid to the interconnectivity of indoor & outdoor spaces.
545 E Ladera St., Pasadena, CA 91104
Virginia Paca is a full-service architecture and landscape design firm that has been serving the San Gabriel Valley for the past two decades. Founder and namesake Virginia Paca personally assists all of the firm’s clients throughout every phase of a project, from design to construction. Virginia is experienced and well-versed in working with city zoning permits and historic preservation requirements and is also a highly hands-on designer. Paca works closely with each of her clients and craftsmen, and she is noted for her attention to detail. Virginia also facilitates communication between homeowners and contractors and is known for her excellent gardens. Some of her best gardens have been regularly featured on the Garden Conservancy’s “Open Days’ program in Pasadena.
© Virginia Paca
The featured project showcases one of its more stately homes. Located in a tree-lined street somewhere in South Pasadena, the residence has been regularly used by filmmakers, most notably National Treasure. The firm’s team made use of a highly symmetrical colonial revival style. The landscape includes carefully cultivated trees, low box hedges, and a brick walkway. Information for this feature was taken from Virginia Paca’s website.
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