Developing a building for your customers entails coming up with an efficient design that responds to your project’s surroundings and will meet your customers’ needs. An architect can help you connect your project to its site, solidify your project goals, and anticipate the trends of living, working, and learning.

To help you choose the right designer equipped to handle any building requirements you might require, our team has curated a list of the best commercial architects in Santa Monica, California. These firms were selected for their accreditations, certifications, and professional affiliations. We also considered the recognition each firm has received in the form of industry awards, client reviews, and press features. We have laid out the range of services the firms offer, their specializations, and the length of time they have been in the industry. 


Brooks + Scarpa Architects

3939 W 139th Street, Hawthorne, CA 90250

Honored with the Smithsonian Cooper- Hewitt National Design Award, Brooks + Scarpa is a multi-disciplinary practice that delivers architecture, landscape architecture, planning, environmental design, materials research, graphic, furniture, and interior design services. The firm has completed nearly every project type ranging from single-family homes to multi-family housing, affordable housing, commercial, and institutional buildings. Each project is designed to address its client’s needs, budget, and specific site conditions—all while incorporating important global issues such as sustainability and digital fabrication.

All three principals of Brooks + Scarpa are Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa are co-founders of Livable Places, Inc., a non-profit development company dedicated to building sustainable mixed-use housing in the city of Los Angeles on under-utilized parcels of land. Angela is the past chair of the National AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Advisory Group; Lawrence co-founded the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute (AHDLI) and has received more than 200 major design awards. On the other hand, Jeff Huber is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), and like Angela, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). With their visionary leadership, Brooks + Scarpa built this mixed-use office building. 

The structure contains 26,000 square feet of creative office renovated from an existing office building, retail at the ground level, and a parking garage. A paseo cutting through the site from the Robertson station offers places to dwell, walk, and explore. It creates the possibility of different experiences and encourages vibrant public and private usage.


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

333 South Grand Avenue, Suite 3600, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) meets clients’ needs with a balance of disciplines: planning, interiors, engineering, and architecture. SOM’s approach is highly collaborative, maintaining seamless coordination from the dynamic initial design stages to the end result. Working from a network of creative studios across the globe, the company is able to apply international expertise at a local level. SOM values equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace as well as the climate crisis, having formed a Climate Action Committee within the firm.

Five principals run the Los Angeles office and bring together creative, technical, and management expertise. Paul Danna, FAIA, has served as the President of AIA Los Angeles and Director of the AIA California Council. He has led the design of many LEED-certified projects, including the first LEED Gold workplace building in Southern California, and the first net-zero-energy large commercial office building in the US. Michael Mann, FAIA, served as a Board Member of the AIA Center for Architecture and Urban Design and is certified by NCARB. Jose Luis Palacios and LEED AP Jed Zimmerman are members of the AIA; Jed carries additional certification from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). Finally, Lois Wellwood is a member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Their holistic approach enhances the SOM design and construction process and contributes to the success of each project as it did with The Desmond.

SOM is behind the design of the new United States Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The project used traditional architectural elements, innovative engineering techniques, and sustainable design principles. It has 10 stories and 633,000 square feet that contains 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers. This LEED-certified project earned the 2019 AIA National Honor Award for Interior Architecture as well as the 2018 AIA National Honor Award for Architecture, among more than a dozen other awards.


MW.FA

1524 Cloverfield Boulevard, Suite D, Santa Monica, CA 90404

The philosophy at Michael W. Folonis Architects (MW.FA) is to engage in a constant working awareness of culture, technology, history, sustainability, and social relevance. It employs these fundamental components in every stage of research, design, and development. MW.FA establishes a permanent architectural character, grounding each structure to the land and responding to a project’s unique set of conditions. The firm considers scale, mass, function, city and neighborhood fabric, planning and zoning codes, and the process of building to inform organic solutions.

Michael W. Folonis, FAIA, is the founding principal of MW.FA and a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIA. He is known for his dedicated approach to regional modernist design. With nearly 40 years of experience in design, programming, construction, and management, Michael has a strong understanding of mixed-use, multi-family, medical, commercial, and historical restoration projects. His work has received more than 75 design awards from national, state and local AIA chapters, the Society of American Registered Architects, and several other highly respected design awards programs.

One of MWFA’s finest works is the UCLA Outpatient Surgery and Oncology Center. The design involved the creation of a distinctive and articulated massing, the maximal inclusion of natural daylighting and ventilation throughout the building, and a strong indoor-outdoor connection. The project achieved LEED Gold Certification for New Construction and is the first Outpatient Surgery and Oncology Center in the nation to achieve this rating. The building has won two national AIA, one California AIA, two Los Angeles AIA, and ten other design awards.


Belzberg Architects

2740 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Belzberg Architects has fostered a reputation for creating beautiful and functional architecture and interiors by exploring unconventional methodologies. The firm has a broad base of experience in commercial, residential, institutional, interior design projects. While it nurtures a collective curiosity and dissects critical issues, Belzberg Architects’ solutions take into account the realities of construction.

Founding Principal Hagy Belzberg is a Fellow of the AIA. Hagy has been honored by the AIA California Council as an Emerging Talent, and in 2008 he won the prestigious designation of “Emerging Voice” by the Architectural League of New York. In addition, Hagy has held Graduate and Undergraduate level instructorship and lecture positions at UCLA, USC, and The Southern California Institute of Architecture since 1994. He led Belzberg Architects towards gaining recognition from AIA Los Angeles with Merit and Citation Awards for its exemplary designs. An example of this is Apertures, a project that required high precision fabrication and installation. Belzberg’s design of a custom masonry block and its structural stacking assembly allows the screen of Apertures to take a dynamic and fluid form, defying the apparent weight of its six-story mass. The resulting structure curves on multiple planes, adapting to desired views and daylighting needs while protecting balconies.


Montalba Architects

2525 Michigan Avenue, Building, T4 Santa Monica, CA 90404

Montalba Architects is a multi-disciplinary firm supported by a team of architects, designers, and professionals working across two offices. It produces select architecture and urban design-related projects with professional experience covering residential, hospitality, commercial, urban, and mixed-use developments. Montalba emphasizes experiences by creating environments that are both socially responsive and aesthetically progressive. Over the last 15 years, it has continued to refine its craft through the forces of volumetric landscapes, material integrity, natural light, and pure spatial volumes to create solutions to pragmatic requirements of the client, constructability, and context. The firm fosters communication between involved parties and leads the architectural and construction teams on behalf of the client as proactive experts.

As Founding Principal of Montalba Architects David Montalba is the driving force of leadership and design within the firm. Apart from holding membership with the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects, he has been recognized with numerous awards. Those awards include the AIA’s National Young Architect Award in 2008, a 2019 AIA Institute Honor Award, and over 150 other design awards. David works closely with the principals and staff in taking on a more personal approach with each project, including the Headspace SM Campus.

The challenge for this office expansion was to find unique ways to bring Headspace’s new office to life by seamlessly juxtaposing group and individual spaces. To honor the core values of the company, small spaces were strategically placed throughout the building. Now employees can find a moment of personal solitude in a way that doesn’t deter from the communal environment.


Standard

4411 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029

Standard is the Los Angeles-based architecture and interior design partnership of architects Jeffrey Allsbrook and Silvia Kuhle. Its projects start with a dialogue about the program and purpose and progress toward their own identity. At every scale, from furniture and interiors to architecture and urban planning, Standard’s architecture responds to the fundamentals of space, light, and materiality. The firm designs from the inside out, in response to a project’s specific conditions and constraints. Collaboration and research across disciplines, and across time and culture, are essential to Standard’s work.

Jeffrey and Silvia are both members of the AIA and are LEED APs. Certified by NCARB, Jeffrey is committed to architectural education and research. He studied architecture at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany, and at the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Silvia led the firm’s competition-winning design for the Phare Tower in Paris in 2016. As a whole, Standard has received awards from AIA LA and the Los Angeles Business Council. Many of Standard’s proposals establish narratives for new ways of living and illustrate the potential for a transformed experience. A testament to this is the company’s work on the Beautycounter Office.

From the elevator lobby, visitors are presented with a slatted oak screen, a pattern repeated throughout the office. The screen allows for spatial division while maintaining transparency and light. The new design displays a clean modern environment and reflects the goals of the company—cleaner products through sustainable materials and transparency through visual connections. 


nonzero\architecture

3200 Airport Avenue, Suite 20, Santa Monica, CA 90405

nonzero\architecture (nz\a) provides full architectural, planning, and design services to local, national, and international clients from its offices in Santa Monica. The firm continues to build on an experienced team and seamlessly continues the work of its accomplished predecessor firm studio bau:ton. Sustainability and the preservation of building substance, of financial and material resources, are always integral parts of the firm’s designs. nz\a’s weighs in the factors of economic realities, social dynamics, and limited natural resources which all demand an intentional approach to design and construction.

Peter Grueneisen, FAIA, is the President of nz\a. Peter has served on the design awards committee of AIA LA and contributed as a guest critic at the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design as well as at the 2003 AIA National Convention. His expertise as a member of the Audio Engineering Society and the Recording Academy gives the firm a special focus on office, education, and recreation projects centered around the music industry.

nz\a converted the 1929 multipurpose space and clubhouse of the American Legion Hollywood Post into a state-of-the-art high-end movie theater. The historic architectural character of the hall was designed to blend with the new contemporary technology while providing excellent sound and pictures. By removing sideways risers and re-shaping the floor, a total of 480 removable seats was achieved in a newly curved continental arrangement that can be transformed into a dancefloor.


DFH Architects

1544 20th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

DFH Architects is an independent, award-winning architecture firm with over twenty years of experience and fifty-plus projects in Santa Monica. The company blends artistic vision with sustainable design, highlighting community values and sound project economics. It offers full architectural services, from custom interiors to large-scale offices and housing projects. The NCARB and LEED-certified practice has garnered mastery over tackling difficult entitlements, zoning, and building codes. DFH Architects has a strong network of loyal clients with projects across Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Diego as a result. Some of its best-known work includes the Universal Music Headquarters in Santa Monica, the Skechers Headquarters in Manhattan Beach, and the Whole Foods on Wilshire Boulevard.

David Forbes Hibbert is the principal of DHA Architects, and a member of the AIA. Growing up in three different countries, and attending business school and architecture school at the same time, David brings a wider perspective to office organization and management, as well as to marketing and business development. He guided DHA in developing the Gibson Santa Monica, a 95,250 square-foot mixed use building that won the 2016 Gold Award for Los Angeles Business Journal‘s Best Multi-Family Project.

Author

  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at General Contractors with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at General Contractors, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration