Looking to experience beachfront living? Newport Beach is the way to go. With stunning beaches and dozens of water activities, this affluent coastal community embraces an exciting lifestyle. From yachting to surfing, living by the water has unique attractions. The city’s spectacular, sunny weather is an added allure.
Those choosing to live the Newport Beach way have the option of living in one of the city’s wide variety of multifamily properties. Listed here are the ten best architects behind the area’s multifamily residential structures. All of these professionals are affiliated with the American Institute of Architects and most have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditations, with a focus on sustainable design. With experience ranging from one to more than five decades, these architects have received their fair share of press. They have all completed numerous projects and built impressive portfolios.
Bassenian Lagoni Architects
2031 Orchard Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660
Established in 1979, Bassenian Lagoni is a highly-acclaimed firm. Over the last 43 years, the firm has received extensive industry recognition and press attention. Publications that have featured the firm include Professional Builder, Newport Beach Independent, The Business Journals, and Times of San Diego. The firm’s award-winning architectural, interior design, and planning services reach clients across the U.S. and the world. In California, the firm has clients in Newport Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, and Irvine.
The firm’s worldwide reach is influenced by its president and co-owner, Jeff LaFetra. Jeff has a global background in design and management, acquired over his 30 years in the industry. Currently, he oversees the firm’s daily operations, assessing the needs of its local and international clients. He guides his team of professionals in continuously building their firm as a world-recognized brand.
In addressing the needs of international and local markets, expertise in a wide range of projects is essential. The firm’s expertise encompasses mixed-use developments and commercial and residential projects. It is a master in multifamily housing, as proven by this West Village project. This multifamily structure in Brea, California offers charming, modern units of 2,246 to 2,280 square feet with an open-concept layout. The living room extends to the balcony, connecting the unit to the outdoors. The exterior is painted in varying shades of blue, mimicking the hues of the sky. For this project, the firm rightfully earned the 2020 Gold Nuggets Best Multi-Family Housing Community award in the 15 to 30 DU/Acre category.
MVE + Partners
1900 Main St. Suite 800, Irvine, California 92614
Founded in 1974, MVE + Partners offers a versatile approach to its projects. Unlike firms with distinct, signature styles, the firm chooses flexibility in approaching design solutions for specific client needs. Through this approach, the firm formulates project-appropriate solutions with a fresh perspective. Its main priority is to create structures that address the needs of the clients, the community, and the environment. Driven by this goal, the firm has received the 2019 AIA Orange County 25-Year Design Award. The Los Angeles Business Journal, Building Design + Construction, and The Salt Lake Tribune have expressed their appreciation for the firm through features in their publications.
An industry leader, the firm has the technical expertise and creative talents to design outstanding multifamily homes. An example is the Meridian project in Newport Beach. Built on 4.25 acres of land, the property includes 79 high-end condominium units. Offering a luxurious lifestyle, the residential units feature top-of-the-line kitchen equipment and an open floor plan. Located near Fashion Island, the units have balconies to enjoy the spectacular water views. High-end amenities include an outdoor pool and a fitness center. Luxuriously designed by MVE + Partners, living at the Meridian gives residents a fulfilling and relaxing resort-style lifestyle.
Carl McLarand and Matthew McLarand, both AIA and National Council of Architectural Registration Board members, partner in directing the firm’s quality architecture and customer services. Carl McLarand, the firm’s chairman and CEO, founded the firm, focusing on residential projects. Over the last 40 years, he has supervised the firm in expanding its portfolio to include markets around the world, reaching clients in the United Arab Emirates, China, and Egypt. Matthew McLarand is the firm’s president and Director of Design. In the industry for over 25 years, he has designed and supervised many multifamily, mixed-use, and commercial projects. As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Matthew McLarand makes sure that the firm creates sustainable designs.
Robert Hidey Architects
3337 Michelson Dr., Suite 170, Irvine, CA 92612
Based in Irvine, Robert Hidey Architects (RHA) wants to bring traditional architectural elements to a wider audience. Since Robert Hidey, AIA, founded RHA in 1990, the firm has completed many award-winning projects in North America and Asia. Currently, the firm is working on projects in the Middle East and China. The firm’s expansive reach is due to the firm’s relevant solutions and high-quality designs. In the business for over three decades, the company has adopted new strategies and methods to meet clients’ changing demands. For Robert Hidey, establishing a long-lasting client partnership is crucial for business longevity. For this reason, the firm works hard to impress and to build client relationships.
Under Robert’s leadership, the firm has collected many accolades, most recently three Gold Nugget Awards for Miralon, a master-planned community. Aside from its recognized expertise in developing communities, the firm is an expert in single and multifamily housing. One of the firm’s biggest multifamily projects in Los Angeles is Beverly West. This high-rise residential building contains 60 contemporary units with sleek and clean features. Each spacious unit has floor-to-ceiling glass panels, allowing residents to take in the expansive views of LA. Residents can enjoy cityscape views from the living room, the kitchen, or the bathroom. With a total saleable area of 174,000 square feet, this high-end multifamily development provides style and luxury in the heart of LA.
18821 Bardeen Ave., Irvine, CA 92612
TCA Architects is inspired by culture and evolution. Established in 1993, the firm creates revolutionary designs that transform communities and influence people’s way of life. President and CEO Aram Chahbazian, AIA, LEED AP, inspires his team to create transformative designs. As the firm’s design principal, Aram is instrumental in designing award-winning projects, including One Paseo, which earned a Gold Nugget Grand Award for Best Mixed-Use Project in 2021. In business for 32 years, Chahbazian has honed his expertise in design and management, with a focus on operational strategies and multifamily designs.
One of the firm’s expertly designed projects in Newport Beach is One Uptown Newport. Offering cosmopolitan living near the beach, the property features resort-like facilities, including two outdoor pools and spacious pool decks. Inspired by beach homes, the design incorporates sand-colored stone, wood accents, and shingle sidings. These materials come together in a contemporary design, giving residents a modern, luxurious living experience within the 101,059-square-foot property. The residential building houses a total of 460 modern units with an open-concept layout.
For the firm’s outstanding work, it has been featured in numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Multihousing News, and The Business Journals.
Rockefeller Kempel Architects
145 Standard St., El Segundo, California 90245
Formed in 2002, Rockefeller Kempel Architects is a result of a partnership between Rocky Rockefeller and Christopher Kempel. Both AIA members, Rocky and Christopher have unique backgrounds that combine well. Rocky is an expert in a wide array of projects, including commercial, hospitality, mixed-use, and residential developments. With 39 years of industry experience, he has mastered the various project stages from conceptualization to final construction. He is an excellent project manager with technical expertise and a drive to create sustainable strategies. Christopher, RKA’s Design Partner, uses his degrees from the UCLA Master of Architecture program and the Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin to connect art and society. Through excellence in craft and design, Christopher creates stunning residential and commercial spaces. He specializes in outstanding residential spaces that heighten people’s living experience.
Thanks to the partners’ leadership, the firm has claimed its place as one of the best architecture firms in California. It has collected many awards and press features. Its work on Douglas Building Lofts has been particularly noted in The Architect’s Newspaper and Building Design and Construction. For this project, the firm converted a 19th-century building into a distinctive residential condominium. Consisting of 50 New York-style loft units, the building has a unique character that stands out in the middle of the urban landscape. A central shaft lets natural light flood through the property’s corridors and ground floor. The residential units within the building feature historic finishes mixed with modern additions. To provide parking convenience, an underground garage was constructed within the building. As a result of this project, the firm earned the Rose Award for its commitment to excellence and contribution to downtown Los Angeles’s growth.
William Hezmalhalch Architects
680 Newport Center Drive Suite 300, Newport Beach, CA, 92660
Founded in 1981, William Hezmalhalch Architects (WHA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary by continuing to deliver outstanding services and creating original, relevant designs. A full-service architectural design and land use planning firm, it creates residential spaces that connect to the community and improve the neighborhood. Outstanding custom, single-family, and high-density homes are created under the supervision of the firm’s founder, Bill Hezmalhalch. Residential and community designs are Bill’s expertise. An AIA member, he has a strong industry reputation. In 2015, he earned his place in the California Homebuilding Foundation Hall of Fame.
Thanks to Bill’s leadership, WHA has become one of California’s most reliable firms. Having gained the trust of a long list of clients, the firm has established several offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area. It has earned features in numerous publications, including The Business Journals, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Press-Enterprise.
The firm’s reputation has been further solidified by its many award-winning projects. An example is The Bungalows at Ambassador Gardens. Winner of a 2017 Historic Preservation Award, this one-of-a-kind development contains ten luxury condominium homes. Located in Pasadena, the sustainable development project benefited from the firm’s outstanding architecture, planning, and architectural graphics services. This challenging project required building new homes on a historic estate. With respect for the site’s existing mansions and forest, the firm created luxury homes that are sensitive to the needs of the homeowner and the environment. These new homes feature Craftsman and English Arts and Crafts styles.
315 W 9th St, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Established in 1966, BAR Architects sets the bar high as the most senior firm on this list. For over 56 years, the firm has focused on creating memorable designs with a sustainable and collaborative approach. To create these memorable designs, the firm imagines engaging environments that add meaning to people’s lives. These designs are conceptualized through efficient coordination of its more than 70 team members, including interior designers, planners, and architects. The team is led by CEO Chris Haegglund, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. Chris pushes for a sustainable future and believes that architects have a responsibility to create more environmentally-friendly mixed-use and multifamily projects.
One of the firm’s sustainable projects is The Current located just across the shore in Long Beach. It is a dynamic façade, ground level retail and public plaza serving to create a new gateway into downtown Long Beach from the south. By featuring eco-friendly strategies, including recycled construction materials and water-efficient systems, the project has received LEED-ND Gold and LEED-NC Silver certifications. Totaling 419,000 square feet, the contemporary structure features modern residential and retail spaces inspired by Mid-Century Southern California architecture. This style is seen in the property’s gray and white color scheme as well as its cantilevered decks resembling fins.
80 South Lake Ave., Suite 500, Pasadena, CA 91101
Founded in 1989, Tyler+Kelly Architecture is committed to producing functional, elegant designs and cost-effective solutions. For a design to be functional and comfortable, the firm believes the design must reflect a client’s personal lifestyle and taste. To provide its cost-effective solutions, the firm’s knowledgeable team of professionals secures permits and meets building codes efficiently, ensuring projects are completed on time. For the last four decades, the firm has established strong connections with government agencies to easily secure a project’s approvals. The firm’s untarnished reputation allows it to maintain lasting connections with partner agencies and clients.
In the multifamily market, the firm has delivered many exceptional designs. A specific example is the West Grove project in Pasadena. The 33,425-square-foot, low-rise property contains 25 chic, modern residential units. The design’s focus is on providing access to outdoor spaces, obvious in the individual balconies attached to each unit and the outdoor communal spaces included in the design. The units are surrounded by open corridors, allowing light and air to flow freely throughout the property.
Leading the firm in creating impressive multifamily homes are Partners Jonathan Kelly and Rob Tyler. Both AIA members, Jonathan and Rob have a combined 50 years of experience in the field. Jonathan, a LEED AP, is a University of Notre Dame School of Architecture alumnus with a passion for traditional architecture. Rob is a well-rounded architect with experience in design and construction. He has led over 300 projects for different markets, including commercial, industrial, and residential.
Lampert Dias Architects
208 Avenida Princesa, San Clemente, CA, 92672
Established in 2005, Lampert Dias Architects dedicates its expertise to creating thoughtful designs. The firm applies its careful analysis and ingenuity to building structures that are energy-efficient and distinctive. It takes thoughtful care of its clients as well, guiding them through every step of the process. Because of this approach, the firm has secured a spot as one of the best firms in Southern California. The Winston-Salem Journal, AZCentral, Laguna Beach Independent, and Naples Daily News have featured the firm and its outstanding projects.
One of its carefully thought-out projects is the 6 Unit Affordable Housing SC project. In partnership with the City of San Clemente and Mary Erickson Community Housing, the firm created an uplifting space that accommodates low-income families. Using cost-efficient methods, the firm has designed a charming property offering 3-bedroom, 2-bath units. The property includes covered parking spaces and a central courtyard where children can play safely.
Directing the firm in creating well-thought-out designs are AIA members Carolyn Dias and Christine Lampert. Carolyn, a LEED AP, is a California State Polytechnic Institute alumnus with a master’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her specialization includes luxury and custom home designs. Christine, NCARB, is a University of Southern California graduate. She is a highly-respected architect who serves as an architecture instructor at her alma mater.