A lot of credentials appear after Manny Gonzalez’s name. His first title— AIA (American Institute of Architects)—allows him to practice the profession he’s aspired to since childhood. His other designations include the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and Certified Active Adult Specialist in Housing.
In addition to these formal professional development commitments, Gonzalez serves on the NAHB Multifamily Leadership Board and its University of Housing and 50+ Education Committee. Gonzalez’s involvement in these organizations help him stay up to date on how and where people want to live.
His longtime colleague and client Michael Costa, president and CEO of Gardena, Calif.–based multifamily development firm Highridge Costa Housing Cos., admires Gonzalez’s desire to never stop learning. “He tries to know as much as he can about the people he’s designing for and I love that about him,” he says.
As senior partner in KTGY’s Los Angeles office, Gonzalez is responsible for the design, land planning, and production of residential and mixed-use developments throughout the U.S., including active adult and affordable multifamily communities. In his more than 25 years of practice in residential development, Gonzalez has won numerous awards for his outstanding designs.
Gonzalez, an eighth-generation Los Angeles native, focused on residential architecture early in his career and gets great joy out of designing homes. “More than a residential building, it’s the place where families have Thanksgiving dinners, decorate at Christmas, and celebrate birthdays,” he explains. “It’s a place where lifetime memories are made.”
The architect refuses to leave creating dream homes to chance. Instead, he studies the types of homeowners who will dwell in his homes and how they want to live. For example, Gonzalez started designing for the active adult demographic 20 years ago, long before the term existed. He is now nationally known for his work in this sector—a trend that won’t end anytime soon. “With 10,000 a day turning 65 for the next 15 years,” Gonzalez says, “it certainly is a huge demographic.”
One thing Gonzalez has learned from talking to older home buyers and being part of the baby boom demographic himself—he jokes that his wife is his focus group—is that “people want to thrive in place—not age—and from an architect’s standpoint that means rethinking the way we put a house together.”
His passion for learning translates into listening, collaborating, and mentoring. Gonzalez feels a responsibility to share his knowledge with young architects. He takes time to talk through why they need to revise designs rather than telling them to fix it. “I feel like it’s my job now to help elevate the industry,” he says. He is also an in-demand speaker at national and regional industry events including the International Builders’ Show and PCBC.
Robert Freed, president and CEO of California’s SummerHill Homes, appreciates the way Gonzalez reaches out to junior architects at KTGY, a nationally renowned firm with offices across the country. “There’s genuine collaboration in the way he addresses employees,” Freed says, adding that Gonzalez brings enthusiasm to every project. “He finds out the project’s goals then translates them into really good design,” Freed raves. “He’s also technically well-versed in numerous housing issues. And he doesn’t do things in a vacuum without regard to cost.”
Gonzalez continues to look ahead to the future of housing, and he predicts a major transformation is coming down the road—literally. “I think there’s one huge game changer,” he declares. “I see the house 20 years from now not having a driveway or garage. There will be streets but far fewer cars. We’re not going to drive ourselves. Google and Tesla already built smart cars—driverless cars. This will completely change the way a home looks and help the active adult resident stay in their home longer.”