Overview

Especially as projects and budgets grow, managing relationships with an architect and contractor can become more and more difficult. If all parties aren’t in sync, the quality and accuracy of design execution may be at stake. Design-build firms consolidate planning and construction responsibilities into one hub. In Los Angeles, these top 10 design-build firms/custom home builders are behind the scenes of many successful commercial and residential projects.
Home Builders
9
City
1
Projects
19

Top Luxury Home Builders

9
Wade Co Design

Builder Team:
Wade Robinson

Awards:
AIA Restaurant Design Awards

Address:
1308 E Colorado Blvd Pasadena CA 91106

Contact:
(323) 344-8306 |
info@wadecodesign.com

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About Wade Co Design

Firm Founder and Principal Wade Robinson has designed homes and businesses for stars like Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and appeared on HGTV’s “Designer Challenge,” and Courtney Cox’s “Mix It Up.” Since the 1990s, the firm has offered services from pre-visualization to post-construction evaluation. They apply a client-focused end-to-end strategy for residential and commercial clients. In 2015, Wade Co took home two AIA Restaurant Design Awards for recent design-build projects, and popular Los Angeles barrooms, Harlowe and Idle Hour. Wade Co-designed haunts draw regular coverage from Eater LA, LA Times, and LA Weekly.

Featured Projects

Wade Co Design restored Highland Park Bowl, a Prohibition-era bowling alley now serving Los Angeles trendsetters. With 1933 Group, Wadeco revived the original 1924 building, playing up of-the-time architectural elements like the bow truss ceiling. Two bars and an open kitchen create a complete entertainment experience, complete with classic cocktails and pizzas made to order. Another Wade Co project in Highland Park is generating a lot of buzz. Sonny’s Hideaway conflates an upscale aesthetic with a neighborhood vibe. The long bar and oversized leather banquettes invite patrons to linger over craft cocktails. The dark, intimate space is aglow with overhead lighting hidden by a wood-slat dropped ceiling.

8
GKKWorks

Builder Team:
Praful Kulkarni, AIA

Awards:
AIA San Fernando Valley Chapter Citation Awards, DBIA Western Pacific Region Awards

Address:
2355 Main St Suite 220 Irvine CA 92614

Contact:
(949) 250-1500 |
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About GKKWorks

Praful Kulkarni, AIA, Founder and CEO of GKKWorks, established his firm in 1991 with the intent to provide integrated services that touched on all points of the design and construction process. Through the years, the company has acquired Southern California firms that have allowed them to take on projects in the commercial, education, retail, and civic sectors. An active board member of the Design-Build Institute of America, Kulkarni has achieved, with his company, a portfolio of design-build projects that contributed to his Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. The company brings in an annual revenue surpassing $150M via its six offices across the U.S. and India, where Kulkarni earned one of his two degrees in architecture. GKKWorks has received multiple honors from DBIA, and awards from the national and local chapters of AIA.

Featured Projects

The first netzero design-build project permitted in California, Pierce College Maintenance and Operations Facility in Woodland Hills, is comprised of a 42,000 square-foot building and an adjacent 85,000 square-foot yard. GKKWorks designed the project to achieve LEED Gold certification and have net zero energy consumption. The building generates power through a photovoltaic array, and conserves it with help from a solar-based heating and cooling system. Efficient water storage, LED lighting, and an underground rainwater capture system also contributed to the $8M energy-efficient technologies budget. GKKWorks also redesigned and renovated the Library & Learning Resource Center at Saddleback College. By rearranging and shoring up 101,000 square feet of available space, GKKWorks was able to include offices for the school newspaper, new classrooms, and a designated area for the Learning Resource program. The formerly dull space was also updated with wall-to-ceiling windows in some classrooms, and a translucent center staircase that allows daylight to reach the library’s interior.

7
Marmol Radziner

Builder Team:
Leo Marmol, FAIA, and Ron Radziner, FAIA

Awards:
AIA Inland California Chapter Honor Award, Los Angeles Business Council Preservation Award, AIA Los Angeles Chapter Design Award Citation

Address:
12210 Nebraska Ave Los Angeles CA 90025

Contact:
(310) 826-6222 |
info@marmol-radziner.com

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About Marmol Radziner

Leo Marmol, FAIA, and Ron Radziner, FAIA, founded their eponymous architecture firm in 1989. Acting as Design and Managing Principal, respectively, Marmol and Radzinger lead a diverse team of designers, contractors, and material fabricators. They Radziner are both Fellows of the AIA and Design Hall of Fame inductees, who, with the firm, earned the Los Angeles Business Council Chairman’s Award as preservation architects on the Century Plaza Hotel renovation.

Featured Projects

Marmol Radziner designed and built the Hirsch family compound in Brentwood, a 6,000 square-foot modernist property, featured in Los Angeles Times. Taking advantage of a long lot, the firm included a pool and guest house in the backyard, beyond the house’s ironspot brick exterior. The home itself is arranged in two wings joined by a glass louvered bridge. Below the bridge, the family enjoys an open kitchen and family room overlooking the backyard. A sunken dining room and wood-paneled bar complete a first floor made for entertaining. Like the main living area, the master bedroom has cedar ceiling planks. The warm wood appears again in the master bathroom’s Japanese-style soaking tub. From the suite’s wraparound window wall and patio, the owners take in a view of the home’s drought-tolerant green roof. Architectural Digest took note of a single-story Trousdale Estates residence by Marmol Radziner. Making the most of ocean views from the exclusive Beverly Hills lot, a 40-foot-long sliding glass wall extends along the back of the house, joining the great room and outdoor living spaces. Inside, a feature fireplace wrapped in ledger sandstone delineates sitting areas in the mostly open floor plan. The kitchen is dressed in flat-faced walnut cabinetry with a granite backsplash and island countertop. Fine finishes touch every corner of the house, from corridors paved in luxe Terrazzo to the Calacatta Crema marble master bath.

6
Pankow

Builder Team:
Dave Eichten, DBIA

Awards:
DBIA National Awards, ENR Best Project Awards, Los Angeles Architectural Awards

Address:
199 S Los Robles Ave Suite 300 Pasadena CA 91101

Contact:
(626) 304-1190

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About Pankow

Formed by Charles Pankow in 1963, Pankow is a pioneer of the design-build industry. Their innovative strategies and expertise in the minutiae of construction work allow the firm to complete projects with remarkable speed without sparing quality. In building over 1,000 projects across the U.S., Pankow has drawn on their team’s diverse skill sets in engineering and construction innovation. Complex projects are their specialty, especially working on occupied structures or highly-trafficked civic areas. Pankow President Dave Eichten serves as Board President for the Western Pacific Region chapter of the Design-Build Institute of America, and a Pankow representative sat on the steering committee that established DBIA as an independent organization.

Featured Projects

The Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica is an historic 5.5-acre estate commissioned by William Randolph Hearst. Pankow provided design-build services for the restoration of architect Julia Morgan’s original designs, and its transformation into a public pool facility. With a $31M budget, Pankow renovated the guest house, bulkhead, and swimming pool plus revived outdoor recreational areas with new low-rise buildings. With keen oversight from the landmarks commission, the community facility won Best Rehabilitation Project from DBIA.

The $250M Gateway Center East Portal Transit Station provides ticketing and connects railway commuters with bus and vehicle transfers, a vital component of public transit in Los Angeles. Aiming to make the structure not just functional, but aesthetically pleasing to L.A.’s straphangers, Pankow’s designs include a massive skylight formed by steel trusses and more than two-thousand tetrahedral panels of frosted glass. Aluminum grills keep the sunlight from overwhelming commuters. Another showstopping component is the 7,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, home to West coast native marine life

5
Hensel Phelps

Builder Team:
Laird Heikens, LEED AP

Awards:
DBIA Western Pacific Region Design-Build Awards

Address:
18850 Von Karman Ave Suite 100 Irvine CA 92612

Contact:
(949) 852-0111

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About Hensel Phelps

Every year, design-build firm Hensel Phelps delivers more than $3B in projects across all of their services. The breadth of their business has allowed them to develop industry relationships that benefit their ability to deliver on a diverse portfolio. From concept through construction, Hensel Phelps maintains high standards of communication and execution. The company, established 80 years ago, generated over $1B in revenue in 2015, earning it a place among the ENR Top 20 Design-Build firms. In the same year, the team earned five awards from the Design-Build Institute of America award for their work on a federal building in Miramar, Florida, including project of the year. It wasn’t the first time the firm took home five DBIA awards in one year. In 2012, Hensel Phelps was honored for another five design-build projects, four of which are in Southern California.

Featured Projects

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) Mesa Court Expansion earned Hensel Phelps two DBIA Western Pacific chapter awards. The Design Excellence award honored the company’s ability to turn the $92M budget into student housing that reflected the school’s aesthetic vision and functional needs. The three low-rise towers are able to house over 800 students, and offer amenities such as a fresh food concept dining facility and a coffee house open for late-night study sessions. Also named the top design-build project in the region, the towers are certified LEED Platinum, exceeding state requirements.

4
Balfour Beatty

Builder Team:
Brian Cahill, LEED AP, and Charlie Brown, CCM, DBIA

Awards:
Considerate Constructors Scheme Awards

Address:
1501 Quail St Suite 130 Newport Beach CA 92660

Contact:
(949) 502-4000 |
relentlessallies@balfourbeattyus.com

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About Balfour Beatty

A staple of ENR Top Contractor and Top Design-Build Firm rankings, Balfour Beatty Construction is a giant of the industry, earning $4.6B of revenue in 2016 and completed 133 projects. Since 1933, Balfour Beatty has expanded its business with acquisitions and new regional offices, now boasting 4,200 employees nationwide. The firm has earned several Design-Build Institute of America awards in the U.S. and abroad, under its parent company in the U.K. The L.A./O.C. office has a Southern California portfolio heavy with education projects, from K-12 to highly specific buildings for state schools.

Featured Projects

Balfour Beatty is part of the design-build team for the Hyatt House Hotel, a four-story, extended stay hotel expected to provide housing to visiting students and patients of the USC Health Science Campus. Designed to accommodate guests for weeks at a time, the hotel will feature 200, apartment-style suites. The ground floor will also include retail and restaurant space, and 10,000 square feet for academic conferences. The Sunset & Gordon high-rise in Hollywood was a landmark design-build project for Balfour Beatty. The firm saved $21M on the total construction budget, dropping the cost to just over $76M. The cost-cutting redesign of the mixed-use building’s engineering will also save the developer over 500K gallons of water per year. The 22-story luxury tower stands on the famous Sunset Boulevard, atop 12,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

3
Swinerton Builders

Builder Team:
Ray Haj

Awards:
DBIA Design-Build Awards, ENR California Best Project Award, ASLA Northern California Chapter Merit Award for Design Excellence

Address:
865 S Figueroa St Suite 3000 Los Angeles CA 90017

Contact:
(213) 896-3400

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About Swinerton Builders

Swinerton Builders is a design-build firm and a part of California history. They still operate under the contractor’s license they obtained in 1927—92. The company has earned countless awards since its origin, dating back to 1888 Los Angeles. Most recently, Swinerton earned two Design-Build Institute of America Awards for the Sharp Mesa Vista Expansion and Modernization. Numbering over 3,000 in the U.S., the Swinerton team has made building contributions across the world, including projects now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Featured Projects

The iconic LAX Gateway is one of Swinerton’s most famous design-build projects. The $28M build is comprised of 32-foot high letters spelling out the airport code and a series of conceptually-lit pylons, leading the way to Los Angeles International Airport, known as much for being a gateway to the world as a gold mine for celebrity sightings. The Gateway design adds character and context to what was previously just a maze of highways leading to and away from the airport. Also leaders in the education sector, Swinerton led the SOC Community College’s first design-build project, the Irvine Valley College classroom building. Working with a budget just over $9M, Swinerton partnered with DLR Group to create a two-story, 27,000 square-foot structure to house some of the most exclusive humanities classes in the college’s coursebook. Class size caps allow for more compact classrooms and better use of the space than the building that previously stood on the site. Even without plans to officially LEED certify, Swinerton followed LEED Gold standards of sustainability and energy use.

2
Clark Construction

Builder Team:
Richard Heim

Awards:
ENR California Contractor of the Year, Project Restore Los Angeles Heritage Award, DBIA Design-Build Awards

Address:
18201 Von Karman Suite 800 Irvine CA 92612

Contact:
(714) 429-9779 |
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About Clark Construction

After more than 100 years in operation—and over 30 leading projects from design through completion—Clark Construction is an ENR Top Design-Build firm and 15-time Design-Build Institute of America award-winner. The firm has delivered projects in excess of $18B around the globe, with some individual budgets surpassing $1B. Clark Construction’s portfolio of large-scale builds and restorations in aviation, healthcare, entertainment, and more has earned over 1400 awards.

Featured Projects

Two Los Angeles civic projects are among Clark Construction’s most highly recognized design-build contracts. The $160M Los Angeles Hall of Justice renovation and $326M Los Angeles United States Courthouse are landmark projects that elevate the fabric of Los Angeles. Clark, with collaborators A.C. Martin Partners, made architectural and aesthetic upgrades to the Hall of Justice, reviving the 20-year old building that had fallen into disrepair. Gone are the cells that once held notorious names like Charles Manson and Bugsy Siegel. They’ve been replaced with functional offices that retain a traditional appearance but make use of contemporary innovations. The design earned awards from the national and regional chapters of the DBIA, and from ENR, Los Angeles Business Journal, and the American Public Works Association, Southern California chapter. The U.S. Courthouse has won its fair share of awards as well, among them two for sustainability. The LEED Platinum, 600,000 square-foot judicial building features a pleated glass curtain wall that doubles as an eye-catching facade, and a system for reducing radiant heat and the need for artificial lighting.

Additionally, Clark was in charge of design-build with Meridian of the Long Beach Courthouse. The firm completed the building ahead of schedule and under its $364M budget. The new building, which replaced an older facility on the six-acre site, won Excellence in Design, and the Civic Buildings, National Award of Merit from Design-Build Institute of America.

1
AECOM

Builder Team:
Frederick W. Werner, DBIA, ASCE

Awards:
DBIA National Award of Merit, AIA Los Angeles Merit Award, ENR #1 Global Design Firm

Address:
1999 Avenue of the Stars #2600 Los Angeles CA 90067

Contact:
(213) 593-8100 |
info@aecom.com

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About AECOM

With over $450M in design-build revenue in 2015, AECOM is among the ENR top firms in the category. Also an ENR #1 Global Design Firm, AECOM oversees projects in over 150 countries from their regional offices and the Los Angeles headquarters. AECOM has designed and built a slew of iconic large-scale projects worldwide, including the venues for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, numerous airport terminals, and the Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica.

Featured Projects

Under contract with Clark Construction, AECOM collaborated with SOM on the design of the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach

AECOM was picked by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to manage the implementation plan for modernizing LAX.  According to AECOM “The LAX master plan provides for the design and phased construction while continuing to serve 65 million passengers a year.” The project includes the expansion of the Brandley international Terminal, a new satellite concourse, a new transit system, runway changes and more.

AECOM worked on the design of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Headquarters. The new 491,000-square foot at the Los Angeles Civic Center achieved a lead gold certified. Lastly, AECOM lead construction for the Gold Line Eastside extension.