By: Michele Grace Hottel, Architect – AWA+D

In June, I had the opportunity to be at the Association for Women in Architecture and Design or AWA+D “The Architect is In” at Dwell on Design at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  As a woman architect living and working in Southern California, I was all too happy to volunteer to meet with Dwell on Design attendees to discuss their architectural needs, and help point them in the right direction, or at least a few different routes that they can take without their Google map…


Photo Credit: Grace Hottel

I sat at the booth along with Magdalena Glen Schieneman at the table next to mine, and we met with people who wanted to speak with an architect.  I spoke with one attendee about his idea of transforming his existing two car garage in a nearby coastal city into an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). The state of California has a bill “SB 1069” which makes it easier for people who own property to put an ADU on their property without having to adhere to zoning and planning code within a jurisdiction that might prohibit such a dwelling form being constructed.  As a planning commissioner and architect in the City of La Mesa, I have encountered at least one where certain issues have been nullified because of this new bill.  An example would be that one would still have to provide parking for the single family residence, but may be exempt from providing additional parking for the ADU.  Another example: if there were zoning restrictions on a property that said one couldn’t have a second dwelling unit on their property, they may be exempt from that limitation as well. BUT PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR CITY, COUNTY OR OTHER JURISDICTIONS AND CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL (AN ARCHITECT) PRIOR to building said structure because the percentage of lot coverage and other restrictions may restrict building and a permit will be required OR an ADU may not be allowed in your state or area at all.


Photo Credit: Magdalena Glen Schieneman

In another session of “The Architect Is In”, a mother and daughter wondered if the mom could ever go back to school to study architecture. She had been divorced and a single mom in her early forties with a young daughter.  I always encourage women to go into architecture if they are interested.  It is not easy for women going into a “male dominated profession”, therefore the more role models and mentors that women can speak to, the easier it is for them to think, “Hey, I can be an architect!” One of the reasons I like to educate people on the whole “Equity in Design thing”, is because I think it needs to be better publicized.  Women and men can do things differently or in their own way, but still be in the same design industry. I call my blog, “I’ve never met a woman architect before” not because I refer to myself as a “woman architect” (which I am), but that is what people say when I tell them that I am an Architect.


Photo Credit: Michele Grace Hottel

Best Advice Booth: Association of Women in Architecture and Design AWA+D:  and “The Architect Is In” (#LeanIn) 😉

Best Exhibit: Method Homes, Kim Lewis Tiny Home and Happier Campers featuring products from various brands, including San Diego-based La Cantina doors.  

Best Takeaway: The Shade Store: Sunbrella Ventana Collection “Adult Sippie Cup”
I was at “The Architect is In” booth, but the wonderful Alicia Arlow of AWA+D was nice enough to pick one up for me (the line for filling them up was even longer) and this will be a nice compliment to my swan floatie in the pool…

Best Lecture: Claire Weisz speaking on Sustainable Architecture and all things Architecture…

Best Professional Photographer at the show: Mimi Teller, because who else can tell you that Julius Schulman was friends with her family and taught her everything she knows about photography?


One of the things that I think is great about our profession is the closeness and camaraderie we have and as such, I saw several arc friends at the show and met some others and I have asked them for their take on the show as well:



“In today’s sustainability world, I did enjoy some of the creative ways designers reuse materials, such as Kiel Arto Design converting vehicle steel into furniture, using the original car color.

One of the main features that pleasantly surprised me the most is the Dwell Outdoor, with the variety of outdoor furniture, Autocamp with the different Airstreams, and the Kim Lewis Tiny Home, and many others all laid out in a cohesive environment.

Dwell on Design may be design-focused but tackled big issues such as homelessness and how urban environments deal with it. As someone who is passionate about the subject it was refreshing not only to see a panel discuss solutions to this problem, but students from the University of Southern California Architecture School actually built a small home for a homeless individual, directly on the show floor.  It not only brings awareness to the issue, but also allows attendees to see the physical limitation of those living on the streets.

“It was well worth travelling to the event to be inspired.”

Jean Claude Chamaa | NAV/FAC San Diego


Photo Credit: Jean-Claude Chamaa


Photo Credit: Ann Salazar

Favorite of Dwell Outdoor: Kim Lewis Tiny Home


Photo Credit: Ann Salazar

One of my favorites in Dwell Outdoor was the home by Method Homes.


Photo Credit: Ann Salazar

Favorite Product One: Kitchen Faucet by Grohe Euro Cube

Favorite Product Two: Concrete Sink and Vanity by True From Concrete

Ann Salazar
Avant Garde Interiors

Thank you for reading my recap of Dwell on Design in Los Angeles and please read my blog “I’ve never met a woman Architect before” where I also participate with #ArchiTalks and please listen to my podcast with EntreArchitect.  

– Michele Grace Hottel, Architect