Interview with Steven Ehrlich : design elements


Interview with Steven Ehrlich

categories Architecture, Interviews    

“I’m fascinated with counterpointing a kind of primal, elemental feeling against a light, futuristic, technical experience.”

Steven Ehrlich, AD

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of talking with California-based architect Steven Ehrlich. His houses… from California to the Persian Gulf and West Africa… with their simple but powerful forms are for me one of the most beautiful modern-day classics. Steven Ehrlich has earned a total of eight AIA awards, Green Good Design Award and Maybeck Award for life-long achievement in design. Ehrlich Architects in Culver City, CA received the 2015 Architecture Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects. He spent six years working as an architect and a teacher in Morocco and Nigeria after architecture school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Steven Ehrlich was a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-1970s and that organization’s first architect in Marrakech. He has 3 daughters and 1 grandchild, loves mountain climbing and is also a visiting professor at USC.

Neutra Addition, Santa Monica

What was the moment when you knew you would be an architect?

When I was quite young (about 10) I used to love to build things…ie. tree houses, models, forts, etc.  For my 7th grade science fair project (12 years old), I designed a “solar home”.  About that time I was given a book about Frank Lloyd Wright. After being inspired, it finalized my decision to become an architect…which has never changed.

Is there something that connects all your projects?

All of our projects respond to people and place – the specificities of the local culture, site, climate and what the facilities will be used for. This is a unique design philosophy that our firm has evolved over the past 30+ years that we call Multicultural Modernism. The fusion of indoor and outdoor space is a big interest of mine and continues to be an important element in all of our projects.

Kreuzer-Schroeder Residence, Houston

Looking back at your first project what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?

As time progresses and experience increased…I have become more aware of the quality of craftsmanship one can demand during construction.

What have been the rewards of practicing architecture?

To make people happy in an environment that enhances the goals and demands of the project yet has the magic to lift spirits high.

At this phase of my career I am often asked to lecture and/or teach in the U.S. and in foreign lands.  This gives me the opportunity not only to share our work and ideas but also a great way to meet new people and see new places.

How do you think the role of the architect will change over the next years?

I believe the architect will need to get more involved in producing and developing of projects. For example, a current trend in the U.S. is the design/build delivering methodology. We first embraced this process on the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. We were able to produce the structure in record time and great value for the University.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My 3 children and 1 grandchild.

I am proud of the body of work this past 30 years. I was awarded the Maybeck Award for life-long achievement in design, awarded by the American Institute of Architects of California.

I am also proud of the creative environment in our studio of 30 people weaving multiple talents together. We received the AIA (National) Firm Award in 2015

Macmillan Residence, San Jacinto Mountains

Your favorite books…

Non-fiction books about mountain climbing like “Into Thin Air” and “K2”.  Currently I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs.

What’s your advice to upcoming architects?

It is a very demanding profession…but if you MUST do it…it is the best thing in the world! I also advise you to “open your eyes and plagiarize” which is a funny way to say always be a good observer….this becomes part of your knowledge base. I encourage young soon to be architects to also experience and work/live in foreign lands and different cultures.

Steven Ehrlich’s house

My signature question – what are the most important design elements?

·         Connection of indoor and outdoor space

·         Contemporary clean lines with the warmth of natural materials

·         Embedded sustainability where the wisdom of logical and fundamental design decisions can greatly reduce demand.

photos: Steven Ehrlich Architects, Erhard Pfeiffer, Matthew Millman


15 Kommentare zu “Interview with Steven Ehrlich”

  1. Shelly Gregory am 13.04.2012 um 19:22 Uhr 

    Steven’s work is gorgeous, however, I love when someone successful puts their family as the priority of success. That type of prioritizing comes from deep within the heart which is what his work shows! Thank you for sharing this lovely interview, Maria! xo

  2. Jg Ar am 13.04.2012 um 22:15 Uhr 

    Astonishing story! It takes a lot of determination, hard work, patience and talent to be such on top! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Mathilda am 13.04.2012 um 22:49 Uhr 

    Toller Mann

    Schönes Wochenende für dich

  4. Manuela am 14.04.2012 um 05:52 Uhr 

    Magic. Absolutely superb interview! My favourite interview, Maria! Thank you

  5. Kellie Collis am 14.04.2012 um 11:19 Uhr 

    What a fabulous interview! Have a beautiful week ahead, Kellie xx

  6. the golden girls am 14.04.2012 um 15:56 Uhr 

    super rad designs! amazing! xx,
    The Golden Girls

  7. Tina K. am 15.04.2012 um 10:59 Uhr 

    Oh my! I’ll repeat: oh my! I’m such a fan of Steven Ehrlich. He has an amazing portfolio. Thank you, Maria! GREAT interview!

  8. things i would die for am 15.04.2012 um 11:04 Uhr 

    I’m in love with that Kreuzer-Schroeder Residence!! It’s so spectacular and kind of homely at the same time
    Really good interview!

    Happy sunday :-)

  9. Kathy am 16.04.2012 um 02:36 Uhr 

    This is a wonderful post/interview! I can not stop staring at the Macmillan Residence picture…..sooo beautiful…k

  10. glamour drops am 16.04.2012 um 06:19 Uhr 

    Fascinating post & beautiful buildings. I have to say the 3 design elements are pretty much exactly what I would personally list too.

    Each of these buildings you have shown is so incredibly different to the other ones – now that to me is great architecture – being able to adapt to the client/brief/context.

  11. Nicola am 16.04.2012 um 12:47 Uhr 

    Thanks for introducing me to Steven Ehrlich – what an inspiration!

  12. Nicola am 16.04.2012 um 12:51 Uhr 

    ….that sent too soon!!

    I shall be returning often!!

  13. Mary Jo am 16.04.2012 um 20:43 Uhr 

    This was a really great interview Maria. Of course I’m biased, being a Californian, but I wish more architects took into account the flow of inner and outside space and I love his philosophy of embedded sustainability–true practical wisdom.

    Hope you are having a wonderful week!
    xo Mary Jo

  14. Ehrlich relative am 21.06.2014 um 06:09 Uhr 

    Good Evening Architect
    Steven Ehrlich since when are you an Ehrlich? according to Lily Ehrlich her grandson Steven Ehrlich died of a terminal disease in the 70′s and was a music promoter in California. Mrs. Lily Ehrlich was my grandmother’s sister Raquel. Allen Ehrlich also passed away from addictions said a family circle of lastnames. I just would like to know how you are related to my father’s aunt Lily Ehrlich because, Ehrlich is a poland lastname and now I am confused.

  15. Annonymous am 28.06.2014 um 06:14 Uhr 

    Good Morning relative Ehrlich,
    I am still guessing. You must be related to Sandy Ehrlich in California. The father of Sandy Ehrlich is named Nathan Ehrlich that was president of the bakery union in New York City during the 70′s. Lily Ehrlich and Nathan Ehrlich were beautiful marvelous people as I remember them both.

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