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Meet Ron Mandalian of Urban Design Specialists in Marina Del Rey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ron Mandalian.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After graduating from Moscow State University with a degree in structural and civil engineering in 1994, I moved to Los Angeles in search of better career opportunities. I worked in the design field for close to five years while I saved money to continue my education at Woodbury University. While working towards my architecture degree, I worked full time in several architecture firms to gain hands-on experience in the field. My prior technical and structural education helped prepare me for real-life applications. I opened Urban Design Specialists in 2003 as a small architecture firm that mainly did residential remodels and small additions throughout Los Angeles. We consistently produced clear and understandable construction documents, giving us a strong reputation that grew the business through word of mouth.

After a few years, we were fortunate enough to meet several large developers where we began to work on large multifamily and commercial projects. Now, 16 years later, we keep the same philosophy of giving each of our clients our individual attention. It is important to understand the intention of the project whether it is a custom dream home for a young couple or a large multifamily building for a developer. This clear understanding helps chart the optimal path for each project, regardless of its size or complexity.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Designing and getting a project approved is a complicated and at times frustrating process. Every project has its challenges, from complying with local building codes to capturing the client’s vision. I have learned that thinking outside the box to find alternative decisions sets the project back on track when difficulties occur.

Urban Design Specialists – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Urban Design Specialists provides a comprehensive host of services to our clients, from consulting and conceptual design, to building permits and construction administration. By keeping up-to-date with new laws and ordinances, we try to simplify the process of working with cities to receive the necessary building permits and ensure that the project complies with all requirements. We strive to create unique environments that positively impact the world by implementing sustainable technologies and efficient construction methods. We have worked on projects that range in scale and typology, from custom homes and multifamily to mixed-use developments and commercial buildings. We apply our unique perspective in order to achieve an innovative and timeless design. At UDS no job is too big or small.

What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
Almost every architect I have ever met is superstitious. Misfortunes during projects are often blamed on bad luck. I personally found that before every big meeting I spin three times and spit over my left shoulder brings good luck. On a more serious note, I have learned over the years to only rely on a carefully planned design process. Providing a high level of service is what brings business, not good luck.

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