Dean Nota has achieved international standing as a designer of beautiful and meticulous buildings that inventively translate modernist ideals into a regional, light and space oriented architecture for infill sites in Los Angeles' edge communities.
A native of Southern California, Dean Nota's work is grounded in the region's geography and the cultural history of its architectural icons. Nota is a founding student of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc-1975), where, after his internship with SCI-Arc's founding director, Raymond Kappe FAIA, he later returned as a faculty member. Working ten years in the Kappe Studio nurtured an emergent love for the unique possibilities of residential architecture in the California context that has come to define Nota's body of work.
Nota's work is guided by a design process that envisions a building as an orchestrated spatial experience, shaped by site context, light, structure and material expression. Hierarchy of scale and visual axes are articulated in spaces that are subtly defined and interlocking in a deliberate progression, culminating in an opening to a view, whether of the ocean, the city or a glimpse into a canyon. Particularly adept at bringing light into interiors in unexpected ways, Nota harnesses the third dimension to animate and further order interiors while detail, craft and material discipline provide a framework for the overall composition.
With his first solo commission, the Marsh Studio-Residence, Nota incorporated this personal architectural strategy in a solution for a tiny, triangular infill site in a coastal suburb of Los Angeles. The house, designed as a twelve hundred square foot, live-work space for artist Peggy Marsh, immediately received recognition from the AIA Los Angeles, AIA California Council and the AIA/Sunset Western Home Awards programs. Jury members praised the project for "stylistic inventiveness and responsiveness to site and program." a "sensible strategy for the collage urbanism that surrounds the house" and part of a "new regionalism." This seminal project has informed all of Nota's subsequent work over a 25-year period.
Through publication, awards and teaching, Nota is committed to progressing the legacy of Modernism. He chooses clients and projects with care, and thanks to this deliberately circumspect portfolio, his work has been published worldwide, including in twenty six issues of GA Houses in Japan. He has received design awards from local and regional chapters of the AIA and Sunset Magazine, including a 2008 AIA National Small Projects Award for the Pfeiffer Studio.
Nota's houses have been featured in sixteen books and in print publications in the US, Japan, Spain, Italy, Russia, France and Germany. He has participated in exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Milan, and Madrid, and he has lectured at USC, MoCA, California State Polytechnic University as well as local AIA chapters. In 2008 he participated in the Small Projects Awards Panel at the AIA Convention in Boston. His houses have regularly appeared on AIA sponsored home tours and, in 2006, the Reyna Residence was a featured tour project for Architectural Digest's, Architecture Days.
Nota has demonstrated a long term commitment to advancing the understanding and the value of architecture and urban design in his home community of Hermosa Beach, California. In 1991, He facilitated the application and selection of The City of Hermosa Beach by AIA National for a Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (RUDAT) design charette for the City's blighted downtown. The charette resulted in a comprehensive plan that included a recommendation to close a downtown street which has now become the Pier Plaza, a highly successful, urban space that has revitalized the heart of this small beach town. Nota's subsequent involvements on City commissions and task forces continue, including service on the Hermosa Beach Green Building Advisory Committee. His efforts were recognized by the City with the 2004 "Man of the Year" award.
Dean Nota's unwavering dedication to the Modernist aesthetic has allowed him to hone his architectural language into the precise, controlled, and considered solutions that have afforded him a reputation as an "architect's architect." His tenacity in pursuit of always doing more with less and of solving the complex problem in the most artful manner has written a fitting new chapter in California's modernist legacy.