A global center of entertainment, Los Angeles offers a wide range of attractions and activities. Remarkable film studios, the Sunset Strip, Venice Beach, and illustrious museums are all among the city’s exciting sites. Los Angeles also has a wide variety of famous amusement parks, distilleries, breweries, and leisure adventures, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene. With regard to architecture, the city has it all, though the styles of residences most commonly associated with the city are the California bungalow and Spanish Mission Revival. For commercial buildings, Los Angeles is renowned for its programmatic, or mimetic-style, architecture.
Every great architectural design can significantly enhance residences both small and large, as well as new or expanding businesses. A well-executed architectural firm can deliver beauty, durability, and quality, making businesses more attractive to customers and providing residences with a pleasant atmosphere to live and work in. In order to help customers achieve this ideal, our editorial team has compiled a list of 10 of the best architectural firms in Los Angeles, each of which is an award-winning firm with projects that have been recognized both locally and internationally. In this article, you will also get a glimpse into each company’s notable works, which showcase their extensive experience and strong skills in architecture.
Top Architectural Firms
Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM)
333 South Grand Ave. Suite 3600, Los Angeles, CA 90071
About Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM)
In 1936, founders of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM)—Louis Skidmore, Nathaniel Owings, and John Merrill—recognized the value of integrating their diverse skills in one company. Since then, the firm has expanded its team to include a team of talented interior designers, urban designers, and more. Known for combining structural engineering and architecture, SOM worked on the glass and steel front of the Lever House—New York City’s first progressive office structure—as well as the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center. The latter two are projects from the 1970s that transformed the Chicago skyline. The company also contributed to Burj Khalifa’s engineering, along with the cantilevered trusses of the San Francisco International Airport. Under the leadership of Michael Mann, SOM continues to innovate and stay at the forefront of evolving structures and design practices.
One notable project that SOM worked on is Geffen Hall, which is situated between the Center for Health Sciences and the nearby Westwood neighborhood in the southeast part of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. This project is an 88,000-square-foot, six-story teaching and learning facility. SOM’s thorough planning for the building enabled the installment of cutting-edge technologies, the use of creative instructional methods, and stronger ties between students, staff, and the larger community. SOM built Geffen Hall in order to offer efficient and comfortable spaces for learning, working, socializing, and relaxing, all while being in a sustainably-built structure.
9530 Jefferson Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
HOK is an internationally recognized design, architecture, engineering, and planning company. It is currently led by Anne Fletcher, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional (AP). With 1,600 employees across 26 international offices, the firm has received a great number of awards in its 68-year history. Recently, it received the 2023 American Public Works Association (APWA) Monterey Bay Chapter Project of the Year Award for Historical Restoration. It also received the 2022 AIA East Bay Large Scale Merit Award and the 2022 AIA San Mateo Citation Award. It has been featured in several publications as well, including the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ), and The Business Journals, among others.
Just west of downtown Los Angeles, in the storied Pico-Union area, HOK replaced a deserted warehouse with the new and beautiful Albany Hotel. This project included 730 guest rooms and 63,000 square feet of conference and dining space, and features tiered roof heights of the modern glass skyscraper that descend to a podium deck with a southerly orientation. The design greets hotel guests with a transformation from the surrounding streetscape to an urban square with a tree canopy, green areas, covered seating, and a food and beverage space.
AC Martin, Inc.
444 South Flower St. Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90071
About AC Martin, Inc.
Over a century ago, architect and engineer Albert C. Martin, Sr. established AC Martin, Inc. In operation since 1906, it is among California’s oldest architecture firms. Ever since its founding, it has been creating user-focused, inventive, sustainable, and beautiful historic projects that aim to address social, cultural, ecological, and technical concerns. AC Martin, Inc. employs LEED APs and has completed several LEED Platinum, Gold, and Silver-certified projects. The firm’s chairman, Christopher C. Martin, is the third-generation leader of AC Martin, and he received the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Southern California (USC) Architectural Guild. The company’s CEO and president, Tom Hsieh, has over twenty years of expertise in architecture, having developed a wide variety of significant projects for numerous industry groups.
Among the firm’s notable projects is this French steakhouse with a Californian flair. AC Martin, Inc.’s design strikes a balance between masculinity and femininity, and fuses French opulence with the characteristics of the California deserts. In fact, the design was inspired by Marie Antoinette and the Mexican/Californian Vaquero. Each of these subject’s essence merged to create a special fusion of rustic and sophisticated, resulting in a rich, velvety atmosphere. This stunning project won the 2018 International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Caliber Design Award.
617 West 7th St. Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Since 1935, Perkins&Will has collaborated with clients globally. The firm is renowned for creating wholesome and joyful environments equipped to encourage growing, working, engaging, and healing. It does so through offering services in urban design, landscape architecture, branded environments, and architecture. Under the leadership of principal Richard Marshall, its team of 2,500 employees dedicate themselves to using research for the advancement of designs. This team also collaborates with the firm’s established long-term partnerships: Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR), Portland, Genesis Planning, and Nelson\Nygaard. For its outstanding work, the firm has won numerous awards, including the 2020 Architectural Precast Association (APA) NorCal Award of Excellence for Best Practices and the Award of Merit for Urban Design.
One notable project completed by Perkins&Will is this Hollywood Romaine interior tenant improvement that reinforced the evolving Kaiser Permanente brand. This tenant enhancement included the creation of murals and wall decals that reference the neighborhood’s street art and foster a relaxing environment for the waiting rooms, which are in the middle of a relatively small floor plate with little natural light and few vistas. These spaces also offer contemporary, vibrant, and amusing furniture in order to create a welcoming setting for guests, patients, and employees. The resulting design is a re-imagined therapeutic environment enriched with art and color to integrate creatively with the surrounding neighborhood.
550 S Hope St. #1950, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Renowned international architectural practice, SmithGroup, was founded in 1853. Its vice president is Bonnie Khang-Keating, who is deeply involved in the local design community, serving on multiple committees and boards. Under the leadership of Khang-Keating, the 1,200 experts in the firm’s network are dedicated to providing superior strategy, implementation, and project delivery, resulting in fresh, creative approaches and processes that are revolutionizing the way the architectural firm operates. In fact, the firm’s 170 years in the business have allowed it to produce many award-winning projects, including the 2021 AIA Justice Facilities Review Award and the 2021 AIA Small Project Award.
In redesigning the Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, SmithGroup maximized the limited footprint by coining the idea of “hospitals within a hospital.” To fulfill this idea, a variety of specialty institutions were stacked vertically within the facility. The brand-new hospital offers spaces with abundant natural light and beautiful views, as well as numerous internal courtyards, an outdoor dining patio, an interior garden, and a pediatric play area. A meditative garden and a strolling garden for expectant women are also included in an effort to incorporate therapeutic patient and family-friendly settings. Other features of the facility, including a brand-new civic plaza and a promenade lined with public art, contribute to the neighborhood’s vibrant urban environment.
8609 Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90232
Established in 1988, SPF:architects (SPF:a) is a reputable architecture practice that houses the best technical documentation workshops in the world. The firm has an accomplished design team who run under the direction of co-leaders Zoltan E. Pali, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), and Judit M. Fekete-Pali, a LEED AP. SPF:a’s remarkable designs have been highlighted in several publications, including Architect’s Newspaper, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times.
This Bronze House in Los Angeles, completed by SPF:a, is a recipient of the Gold Nugget Award of Merit. This award-winning project is a two-story, 13,000-square-foot residence located on a level lot close to the end of the street. A central atrium with a huge, 100-foot-long movable skylight connects the home’s two levels, while the lower level rooms are illuminated by light wells that run the length of the property’s north side. Four guest bedrooms, a den, a service kitchen, a fitness center, and a spa are located on the lower levels and all let in extensive natural sunlight. A glass and steel stairway connects the main floor to the basement level.
Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
10865 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
About Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, formerly Ehrlich Architects, is an internationally recognized architectural firm that was established in 1979. It is led by founders and principals, Steven Ehrlich, Takashi Yanai, and Patricia Rhee, who are all FAIAs, as well as Mathew Chaney, who is an AIA and LEED AP. The firm is renowned for carrying out unique designs that continue the legacy of California modernism. It has received numerous major awards, including eight AIA awards. Among them are the 2015 National Firm Award and the 2003 Firm of the Year Award, the latter of which was specifically awarded from the AIA California Council.
This 3,400-square-foot home is a rusted Cor-ten steel barn situated on a 50-by-145-foot urban infill property. It was designed by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects for an African art dealer and collector and his family. The environmentally friendly home makes the most of Southern California’s pleasant climate, all while showcasing the customers’ ever-evolving assortment of African art and furnishings. The Cor-ten steel exterior’s sloped roof is reminiscent of traditional African structures, and the house is converted into an airy pavilion through the use of large sliding glass doors that can slide into wall pockets. Throughout the home, sustainable landscaping is established through the use of significant amounts of zero-scape, native plants, and ground cover made of bark and sand.
2525 Michigan Ave. Bldg. T4, Santa Monica, CA 90404
About Montalba Architects
Award-winning architectural firm Montalba Architects, Inc. has been in operation for 19 years under the direction of architect David Montalba. In the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, it is renowned for developing carefully chosen projects in architecture and urban design. For such attention to detail, Montalba Architects has received honors from both national and international award committees, including multiple national and regional AIA awards. It also received two Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) Design Awards in 2022 as well as a 2021 AIA California Residential Designs Merit Award. It has also been highlighted by the Chicago Athenaeum and Architect’s Newspaper.
This Mandeville House, a single-story 1950s-built California Ranch-style house, required extensive interior and exterior refurbishments. The Montalba Architects team was inspired by the largely hidden elements of the original structure, which they repurposed in order to create an open, flowing set of rooms. White brick was used to replace the stone fireplace, and many walls were taken down in order to achieve a single, open-concept living, family, and dining room. To add more natural light to the home, the firm elevated the roofline of the entire building and installed several clerestories, skylights, and full-height glass doors. The entire new home features a bright and reflective material palette, which pays tribute to the original midcentury design while visually enlarging it.
5747 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019
About Tighe Architecture
Tighe Architecture, led by founder and principal Patrick Tighe, is a Los Angeles-based architecture and design firm. Whether small or large, public or private, high-end or low-income, its projects engage the public in meaningful ways and create a long-term impact. The company’s diverse projects range from hand-crafted stone structures to robotically carved interiors, and from affordable housing in inner-city Los Angeles to luxury villas on the coasts of North Africa. The firm has been highlighted in different publications, including Hollywood Reporter, A+ Architecture, and Builder Magazine, as well as having received awards such as the 2021 Westside Urban Forum Design Award.
Among Tighe Architecture’s notable projects is Mar Vista. This project is a protected center courtyard garden defined by three separate architectural elements that complete an urban villa. The two-story main house contains living quarters, while the villa also features a pool house, den, cabana, and a new garage. The structure’s roof and walls are defined by folded planes and windows that appear to be placed randomly throughout, though, in reality, these elements were specifically placed to enhance particular views and permit light to enter the interior. The main living space is divided into two double-height volumes by a large fireplace that protrudes above the roof line.
Michael Maltzan Architecture
2801 Hyperion Ave. Studio 107, Los Angeles, CA 90027
About Michael Maltzan Architecture
Founded in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture is an architecture and urban design firm led by the award-winning FAIA, Michael Maltzan. Its works have been highlighted in several international publications, including Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Artforum, Blueprint, and A+U. The firm’s projects are also exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Michael Maltzan Architecture’s work is also featured in monographic exhibitions at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
La Crescenta is one of Michael Maltzan Architecture’s recognized projects. Among others, this project won four AIA Awards, including the 2012 National Honor Award, the 2010 California Council Honor Award, and the 2010 Design Honor Award. It also received the 2007 Los Angeles NEXT LA Award. The home’s living spaces are situated within an introverted exterior and emerge throughout the house in various dynamic perspectival frames. These perspectival manipulations start at the level of the room, where a string of non-parallel walls is used to compress and extend space. By overlaying space and restricting view access, a certain level of seclusion is preserved without the need for doors.