Design Consultation . Santa Monica, California
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Everyone we have built for, they have a dream of a house, but they don't know how to express it. Expressing that dream for them is the challenge we have found worth our commitment.
Colin Summers 1998
We look at each design problem as an encapsulated set of constraints, and initially we are focused on exploring them. Primary among these is the site, which is difficult to change and unique to each project. The site will help dictate a generating geometry.

You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces; that is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: ‘This is beautiful.’ That is architecture. Art enters in.
Le Corbusier 1927
That quote is probably on more architecture web sites and brochures than any other. It is the lofty goal of most practicing architects: reaching beyond merely satisfying their clients barest needs, and even expressed desires, and creating something expressive, something which carries and communicates some meaning.

We have been fortunate that we have rarely been forced to accept commisions which didn't interest us. Mercenary work is mind-numbing. On the other hand, if the project is interesting it doesn't matter how difficult the work it, we never tire of it.

The generating geometry, mentioned above, sometimes leads to a bit of plan fixation.

The career issues Steven Ehrlich has faced for nearly twenty years in Southern California are those that confront all architects of good faith and strong ambition — the anxiety of influence, the dilemma of synthesis, the search for identity, and the emergence of a voice.
Joseph Giovannini 1998, Introduction to Steve Erlich's monograph
Yes. In spades: anxiety, dilemma, search and emergence. Although that last one seems to be a tiny scratching still, a still too-tentative reaching for something that could be; mostly we find ourselves pre-occupied with the first three.