At the desk of:
Matthew Rosenberg

The founder of M-Rad Architecture on designing the country’s largest cannabis-only property, studying at the Louvre and going viral

Jan.January 17, 2019 10:00 AM
Matthew Rosenberg (Photo by Jeff Newton)

In a modern warehouse space located in burgeoning Culver City, M-Rad Architecture CEO Matthew Rosenberg’s staff works on projects that range from futuristic spec homes in the Hollywood Hills to Equinox-branded hotels in New York. The 36-year-old, who founded the firm in 2012, is more involved with the business aspects of M-Rad, leaning on his small yet powerful team of 22 employees for much of the design.

Similar to other firms, M-RAD separates its work into three phases: pre-architecture, architecture and post-architecture. It’s been expanding some of its roles in recent years, attending neighborhood meetings on behalf of developers in preparation for design work, and even handling marketing for certain projects during the post-architecture phase. In one instance, M-Rad created a custom scent to complement a new development.

The firm also operates on a different revenue model than most. In the last few years, Rosenberg began taking equity in projects in exchange for a smaller upfront fee that can range from 5 to 100 percent less than is customary. About 75 percent of the projects that M-Rad takes now include it as an equity partner, Rosenberg said.

Some of M-Rad’s more buzzed-about projects include Ring’s headquarters in Hawthorne, the cannabis-centric Green Street office building in Downtown Los Angeles and, of course, the “Pink House” art installation that went viral in 2017. Formally known as Hello Saturn, the Mid-City property once drew both celebrities and camera crews with its cluster of hot-pink homes that M-Rad painted in partnership with curator Fred Lidskog of Impermanent Art and artist Matty Mo. Now the 45-unit project that will replace the pink homes can break ground. Rosenberg said that the original developer is looking to sell the project. M-Rad is raising capital for the project and plans on controlling the development, “if possible.”

The Saskatoon native, who received a masters at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, is also working on a 78,000-square-foot private members club in Philadelphia, a small lodging facility near Yosemite National Park, a 640-acre resort in Joshua Tree and a 16,500-square-foot spec home in Bel Air.

TRD had a desk-side visit with the architect to discuss some of the most treasured items he makes sure to keep close in the office.

Survey equipment

Rosenberg keeps two pieces of antique survey equipment in glass cases by the entrance of M-Rad’s headquarters. They were a gift from his father-in-law, Robert Yellen, who worked as a general contractor in L.A. in the ’70s and ’80s. Yellen gave them to Rosenberg when the architect moved into M-Rad’s remodeled studio about eight months ago.  Largely untouched, the equipment is in “perfect condition.”

AirPods chain

Hanging around Rosenberg’s neck lies a thin metal chain that hooks onto his Apple AirPods. He acquired it from his late grandma Ruby Rosenberg, an “eccentric” woman who, despite having two to three pairs of glasses hanging from her neck, would always ask if anyone had seen her glasses.

Sister’s paintings

Paintings from Rosenberg’s sister, Leah, can be found around the office. Painter and pastry chef Leah Rosenberg, who’s three and a half years older than her brother, “bases her art around color and everyday experiences” to create splashy pieces that feature geometric shapes and stripes. Her work has been featured at the Berkeley Art Center and San Diego Children’s Museum, among other places. An interactive exhibit based on her art, dubbed Color Factory, has now expanded from San Francisco to New York. (In case you were wondering, their parents are both doctors.)

Koda

Koda is the office dog. The 6-year-old white Siberian husky belongs to Patrick Lun, M-Rad’s managing principal. The playful pup serves “as a bit of release during stressful days,” Lun said. She also has a bit of a personality, “playing on people’s heartstrings for scratches.”

Architectural Digest magazine

Rosenberg has a collection of Architectural Digest magazines that date back to the 1960s. His grandma Ruby refused to throw any of them away despite requests that she do so, ultimately landing them in the hands of her grandson. Issues going back several decades can be found in the studio’s storage area.


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