The BUILDER - Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence is produced by BUILDER magazine and sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors.
The BUILDER - Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence is produced by BUILDER magazine and sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors.

By most accounts, Walt Richardson is a builder's architect—and proud of it. “You can never lose sight of the fact that [the project] has to sell to somebody,” he says. That said, he's no whipping boy for his home builder and developer clients. “We always try to push the envelope, upgrade what he's doing, and create excitement for the buyer.” That was the case with Ocean Point, a contemporary, small-lot, single-family detached project in Huntington Beach, Calif., that in 1991 earned RNM Design one of the firm's 13 Builder's Choice awards.

Among its accomplishments: fitting 2,800-square-foot homes on long, skinny lots. “We designed 18-foot-wide homes that were extremely livable and didn't feel narrow,” he says, crediting the liberal use of natural light, interior glass, and 10-foot-minimum ceiling heights.

“We proved you could do an 11-units-per-acre product and be successful and exciting because of its design.” The homes also employed roof decks to extend living spaces and take advantage of ocean views. Going forward, Richardson is encouraged by the renewed demand for modern architecture, particularly in mixed-use projects and attached and multifamily housing.

“In those markets, contemporary design is welcomed and looked for,” he says. “It's a great opportunity for all of us.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.