Can you tell us how you both got involved in designing pre-fab homes?
We had incorporated prefabricated modular buildings into a few of our projects in the late 1990s, including a two-story classroom module as part of The Accelerated School in South Los Angeles in 1997, and four-module childcare center for the Los Angeles Airport in 1999. So in 2003, when Dwell magazine asked our firm to participate in a prefab design competition, it seemed like a natural opportunity to continue what we had started.
The competition sparked our interest in the greater possibilities of designing high-end modern homes within the constraints of a factory. We were exploring ways to minimize the inefficiencies involved with site-built construction, including weather delays, sub-contractor delays, runaway costs and excessive material waste, and prefab seemed as if it might provide some solutions
Since our prefab prototype the Desert House in 2005, we have developed our modular system and completed houses in Utah, Nevada, and throughout California. Our project in Moab, UT was on a particularly remote site and in that way was especially suited for modular prefab. Transportation of labor and materials alone would have made for extremely high on-site construction costs. Further, the modules were installed less than 12 months from the very first site visit, meaning design and construction were able to be completed in less than a year. It was an extraordinary case study for how prefab could significantly improve efficiency and reduce costs for the right project.
Visit Lifework for more of our interview with Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner.