INTERVIEW: Jennifer Siegal of Office of Mobile Design

by , 06/03/11

jennifer siegal, inhabitat interviews jennifer siegal, mobile design, jennifer siegal mobile design, prefab  design, prefab friday, prefab architecture, architecture interview

We love the work of Jennifer Siegal’s Office of Mobile Design, and our very own Emily Pilloton had the opportunity to talk to her in person about green architecture and her prefab designs. One of her standout designs includes the ShowHouse, which serves as a great example of efficiently and effectively executed prefab construction combined with a seamless integration of green materials and technologies. Read on or watch the video of Emily’s interview with Jennifer ahead!

Jennifer Siegal: Green materials and sustainability, alternative energies… It’s just a natural reaction that I have to building and the way that a designer should be instinctively.

INHABITAT: What are some of the basic advantages and concepts surrounding pre-fab construction?

Jennifer Siegal: In a pre-fabricated building, everything is built in a really right environment, controlled, clean and efficient, so everything that is used gets recycled back into the buildings, whether it’s steel or whether it is a fabric.

We live in a much more transient environment. We communicate in a completely different way than we did 20 years ago, and our building should be responding to that same kind of light, exacting habits.

INHABITAT: A big critique of pre-fab housing is that it promises affordability, but often ends up in a luxury market, so how do you see pre-fab housing becoming more accessible?

Jennifer Siegal: My region is southern California, and a typical, single-family residence, architecturally designed home is $400.00, $500.00 a square foot. I can offer people half the cost of that, so I think it is an incredibly affordable deal. At the same time, there are steel buildings that are built to a higher standard. When earthquakes hit, they’re not gonna fall apart, and it’s a more precise methodology of building. It’s a better built home. It’s not kind of – you get more for your money, not less.

INHABITAT: Do you ever design pre-fab structures for non-desert climates?

Jennifer Siegal: Well, we are working in very tight, urban infills in Southern California; I mean, Venice, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, but I’m also working with kind of multi-family units, and also, out here in the desert, I’m doing my own development and kind of thinking about denser, tighter relationships. So I see the pre-fab work that we do as being applicable to any kind of environment.

I got started in this work, looking at pre-fabricated classrooms, so I sort of come full circle, and we are doing schools now, which is really exciting to me, but the same method for building can be applied to a yoga studio. It can be a commercial, mixed-use, residential and retail space. It’s really no different. It’s just the way in which the buildings get fabricated and brought to the site. In a lot of ways, it’s more affordable for developers because they’re also looking at a condensed timeframe, and for many developers, time is money, and that’s something we can offer.

+ Office of Mobile Design

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  1. Inhabitat » PREFA... May 25, 2007 at 10:00 am

    […] latest cutting-edge prefab design from Jennifer Siegal’s Office of Mobile Design is the expansion of Valley Village, California’s Country School, […]

  2. Inhabitat » THE S... April 28, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    […] Jeremijenko (artist and engineer), Bruce Mau (the man behind the Massive Change exhibition), Jennifer Siegal (our favorite prefab pioneer), and Lucy Orta (socially-conscious artist and designer). The caliber […]

  3. Inhabitat » NEW Y... January 2, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    […] JENNIFER SIEGAL, Office of Mobile Design My resolution for ‘007 is to look much farther ahead – I am taking a great leap forward and looking 100 years into the future. My firm Office of Mobile Design, along with Roland Ritter, Paulette Singley, Nick Pisca, Emily White and students from USC and Woodbury recently competed in The History Channel’s competition to envision our city of the future. This is our team’s statement and what I see for the future. […]

  4. David Hart December 13, 2006 at 5:49 am

    First, I applaud Ms. Siegal for her imagination and commitment to Green Design the execution of her pre-fab design theories. But Ms. Siegel architectural SQUARE BOX style is, I guess, an outcropping of Modernism of the 21st Century. Unfortunately her model is in Venice, California ( a community I lived in for the past 20 years but the influx of this style of architecture is destroying the character of this community. Although Venice is more know for the craziness of the Boardwalk, it is at it’s heart a Craftsman style bungalow community originated by Abbot Kinney at the turn of the 20th Century. With the adjunct of the “MacMansion Theory” of demolishing older BUNGALOWS in favor of BIG BOX 3 STORY Behemoths, the true flavor of this wonderful neighborhood is being eroded. I have nothing against PRE-FAB, in fact many of the best styled 1900-1935 Bungalows are PRE-FAB (designed, cut, labeled, boxed and shipped to their homesites for on-site construction). I encourage Ms. Siegal to explore this truly American style of design and learn to incorporate this design style so prevelent in her very own backyard into Modular/Pre-fab. Although they are too small for long term living, the “Katrina Cottages”, are a style of prefab that still maintain an authentic period style. There are true prefab homes that are historically accurate styles of housing that are available today and can be “Green” building also. Please continue to explore alternatives to Modernism- even the great FLW explored the the ideas of modular design and repeatable motifs.

  5. Bangkokwalk Blog »... December 13, 2006 at 12:35 am

    […] Jennifer Siegal, an architect from Office of Modern Design, has presented some of her prefab solutions which have become widely recognized around Western U.S. and China. Emily Pillowton from got a chance to interview with Jennifer Siegal and hear her opinion about prefab building here. Pillowton also interviewed Leo Marmol, a Los Angeles architect and builder who practices prefab construction to reduce building cost and reduce environmental waste. You can watch his interview here. […]

  6. The PrairieMod Squad December 10, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Great video interviews with Jennifer Siegel and Leo Marmol! We’re so glad that you were able to speak with them. This is a wonderful compliment to our podcast interviews from Dwell on Design that we did with Alan Hess, Julius Shulman and Editor-in-Chief Sam Graw.

  7. Dave December 8, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    That was a great interview–it really provided some insight into green architecture that i had not considered in the past. Good job Jennifer, and nice interview Emily.

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