“If these guys can do it, we can do it,” says Ron Radziner, one half of the duo behind Marmol Radziner, on why he and his partner decided to not only design homes but build them too. Radziner and Leo Marmol met when they attended Cal Poly. After graduation, they moved to Los Angeles and began taking on small side design projects, and they ended up starting a small architecture studio in 1989. They soon got rid of their contractors and took on building their projects, a novel idea at the time.
“That separation of architect and builder is not necessarily such a good thing,” Radziner tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “[Our clients have] built in that traditional way before, [and] they’ve had problems with that method—the checks and balances don’t always work. They appreciate this single source of responsibility, where if there’s a problem, they know it’s ours and we’re going to take care of it.”
In 1998, the firm completed the project that would put it on the map: the restoration of Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra’s iconic Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. “It led to some other restoration projects and new residential projects, and it helped legitimize the design-build aspect of the firm as well,” says Radziner. Elsewhere in the episode, he talks about working with fashion designer Tom Ford, how environmental changes are affecting building in Los Angeles, and his firm’s experimentation with prefabs.
Crucial insight: Radziner noticed artificial intelligence making its way into his business through the platform Midjourney, where clients can type in a few words and get an AI-generated image. The firm now uses these photos as a starting point for a home’s vision, not unlike the way they used to ask clients to collect magazine cutouts of their inspiration. “It’s not real—it’s just fodder. But I do understand how it could be useful in some broad way, as a departure point,” he says. “It’s not really taking the [job] site and [architectural] program and all that complexity into account, but maybe … it’s going to get to a point where it can do more of that.”
Key quote: “There’s nothing I could do other than be an architect. I feel really lucky to get to do this,” says Radziner. “The act of building and making things is generally an optimistic venture. You’re doing something for the future, so I think I do hold that always—otherwise it’d be hard to continue to do it. Somewhere within the cynicism of everything going on on this planet, I have some sense of optimism that we’re going to figure this out.”
The Thursday Show
BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to go over the biggest news in the industry, including a greenwashing ban, AI dream homes, and a look at the evolution of the sales rep. Later, real estate consultant Jonathan Miller shares some good news about the housing market.