Landworth / DeBolske have a building partnership with a view

| April 28, 2022 | 0 Comments

Architects Philip DeBolske and Lisa Landworth have transformed homes in Miracle Mile, Hancock Park and throughout the city and beyond. They’ve also created new homes from the ground up, often for repeat clients.
“For a lot of clients, we’ve become the family architect,” notes Landworth.

ARCHITECTS Lisa Landworth and Philip DeBolske in their Wilshire Boulevard office.

ADUs (accessory dwelling units) have become increasingly popular since zoning laws were eased in recent years. These light-filled and spacious little houses are not your parent’s granny flat.

“They’re fun. New construction is fun,” Landworth says of the cottage-style guesthouses and add-ons. “They give the homeowner a lot of flexibility for rental and multi-generational living … but still have privacy.”

Similarly seeking aging-in-place flexibility, about a dozen longtime clients have asked to add elevators to their homes to avoid the climb to the bedroom.

“That’s the trick,” she responds when asked how to integrate the lift into an existing home.

“I always want to make it seamless.”

In the family
Choosing a major when she was a student was never a problem for Lisa Landworth. Her father was an architect, and her mother was an interior designer and a member of a support group for wives of architects, back when women didn’t become architects.

“I couldn’t escape it. My parents lived and breathed architecture and design,” Landworth said of her career path. (Only 10 percent of her architecture school graduating class was women, compared to more than 50 percent today, she notes.)

After graduating from USC, she teamed up with classmate Philip DeBolske, and the pair has worked side by side ever since.

“I call him my daytime husband,” Landworth said. (She and her real husband, Toshio Welchel, have one adult son.)

HOME designed by the DeBolske team.

Both DeBolske and Landworth work and live in Miracle Mile; Landworth is a fan of period-revival homes, such as her Spanish-style one, and DeBolske loves his tower apartment at Park La Brea. “It reminds me of a New York apartment,” says DeBolske.

He is busy with projects in Montecito and residential add-ons around the country, while Landworth is reviewing schematics for homes in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

After talking to clients to find out their needs and what they want in a house, and considering the site itself, “the most important thing is problem solving — to take all the information you have and come up with the best solution.” All while working within a budget, notes Landworth.

Good buildings
Her work takes her to locales throughout the city, where she is often pleasantly surprised to find period-revival architecture. “The houses are really what’s so wonderful about Los Angeles,” she says.

She is on the board of the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, the project of an ordinance she worked with her neighbors to obtain to protect the area.

When growing up, her parents would often drive to Beverly Hills and other well-heeled areas to peruse the architecture and gardens, and they visited art galleries.

Landworth and DeBolske started their architecture firm on Fairfax Avenue, and they later moved to Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. Metro helped them relocate 11 blocks east to their current spot at 5150 Wilshire six years ago.

The duo hasn’t minded the ongoing Metro construction that has followed them down Wilshire, nor the construction of new apartments rising in the neighborhood.

“It’s fun for us. We’re architects. We like to watch construction,” said Landworth.

MONTECITO is the locale for this two-bedroom accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on a large irregular, sloping, tree-filled lot.

What she doesn’t like is the large, boxy homes designed by developers or otherwise untrained types.

“I think it’s like a disease in our neighborhood. I think neighborhoods can have a mix of different styles, but it needs to be sensitive, and scale is the important thing.”

She is also not a fan of floor-to-ceiling windows on the façade of a home, which she calls, “exhibition living. People’s homes should be retreats,” she says.

Landworth / DeBolske’s fifth-floor office faces the quiet south side made up of residential streets, and it offers a “terrific view. It almost feels like a neighborhood from the 1930s,” says Landworth.

She’s a longtime visitor to LACMA, where she’s taken watercolor classes for years, and she thinks the entire area of Museum Row — “with all the eclectic architecture” and two Metro stops (coming in 2024) — will be the Times Square of Los Angeles.

It’s only fitting she calls her workspace an “office / gallery.” Art hangs on walls throughout the bright, airy space, including one large faded print of a port scene. It was from the haberdashery department of the turquoise-tiled Art Deco Eastern Columbia Building on Broadway and Ninth streets, a now “historic” building that a family member of hers built in the 1930s.

As she said, architecture runs deep in the family.

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Category: People

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