Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Daniel Alexander

Since co-founding DOMOS Coliving, Daniel Alexander has made major strides in real estate development. With nearly 30 years of experience, DOMOS has been able to innovate, construct, and deliver not only modern buildings but also highly sustainable developments with the help of PropTech. With 2020 being overthrown by COVID, Daniel and his team restructured the way they utilize outdoor amenities for the now and for future projects by including more rooftop lounges, spas and pools. DOMOS has been featured on The Fireside Chat Podcast and most recently on the Business of Architecture Podcast. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Daniel Alexander of DOMOS.

This exuberant red, urban building known as Formosa 1140 offers multi-family living opportunities that the community was in need of. Architecture by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects; Photo by Lawrence Anderson.

Andrew Joseph: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Daniel Alexander: In the future, I hope to see more spatially intelligent design brought to multifamily developments. I count myself lucky to work with some of the most renowned architecture firms who are able to visualize and implement futuristic living models, such as coliving, in a sensitive way that will protect the health and well being of the residents. It is possible to adapt a community living philosophy into today’s environment including features such as hands-free entry and exits and rooftop/outdoor living spaces. I hope to see these amenities included in all socioeconomic levels of residential design.

Andrew: What would you like remembered about you?
Daniel: I would like to be remembered by my colleagues, friends and family for the forward-thinking multifamily housing I have brought to my hometown, Los Angeles. It is my passion to expand the attainability of safe, affordable, modern and viable housing solutions to impacted cities.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Daniel: Adaptive, cutting-edge and community-driven.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Daniel: I imagine the design world in 10 years will be more hyper-focused on adaptive reuse and green energy/energy-efficient design. Sustainable design is one of the key pillars of our developments at DOMOS, and I see this approach becoming more and more prominent over the next decade. In this same vein, adaptive reuse is effective in cutting the amount of waste during construction as the property does not have to be completely torn down and rebuilt before it serves another purpose to the surrounding community.

While constructing a completely new interior for this building in Southern California, Daniel and his team tried to strike a balance between traditional apartments and contemporary co-living units. Architecture by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects; Renderings by Brick Visual.

Andrew: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
Daniel: Once, when I was buying a property, my client, who was a part of the equity of the property, wanted to name the LLC ‘Flamingo.’ I thought to myself “okay. That’s fine”. I wanted to sign the agreement and until we formed the LLC we could not move forward. Turns out, the LLC Flamingo wasn’t available! Went back to the database and discovered the closest name to Flamingo was Flem. And to my surprise my client took it! I buttoned my lip and let it happen and successfully locked in the deal.

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
Daniel: I always travel with a crystal my wife gave me for protection, a little note in my bag from my daughter and a spare blue blazer or a shirt so I am prepared at a moment’s notice.

Andrew: What was your first job?
Daniel: I came from very humble beginnings. I sold candy bars door to door at a young age. I did all kinds of things to make money for myself. My very first job was at Wendy’s and suffice it to say, it didn’t go very well. I lasted all of 6 weeks!

My very first real estate project was a condo I bought in college that I still have to this day. My second project was my first official work project; a small house in Norwalk—and I thought I was going to lose every penny in the venture. I was terrified. Of course, it all worked out fine. And the rest is history!

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Daniel: Classic, smart, polished, refined.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Daniel: My dream project would be one that touches on the points that are most important to me at this stage in my career: very high social impact projects that help expand the universe of affordable housing and enrich people’s lives. My dream project would include programming that helps the resident financially. It is going to be a project that the community at large embraces. In terms of environmental impact, the way the project is constructed to the way it is operated must be sustainable. Sustainability is key!

Finally, it must be a project that makes me feel good. Not just proud, but something I feel very good about and will serve the community far beyond my days.

Upon first glance at this 1930s building, Daniel knew he had to reconfigure it into a liveable multifamily development. It is proudly located in Hancock Park, Los Angeles with breathtaking amenities such as a pool, spa, and lounge deck right on the roof. Architecture by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects; Renderings by Brick Visual

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
Daniel: If I had to choose one project I am most proud of, it would be Formosa 1140. This was the first opportunity for my team to work with Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects on a project in Los Angeles. The LA region is notorious for its lack of urban public space and Formosa 1140 addresses this condition by parceling out a third of its privately-owned building site as a publicly-managed pocket park for the City of West Hollywood. It is certainly the ideal example of multifamily residential design that supports the way the community lives and the outdoor social interaction it craves.

Andrew: Who is your design icon?
Daniel: Frank Lloyd Wright is my design icon. I have a lot of respect for him and if I had to pick one person past or present, it would be him.

Andrew: What are some of the podcasts you listen to and why?
Daniel: I am particularly interested in podcasts that delve into technology, CRE, social impact and self-help. Some of my favorite podcasts are Capital Allocators by Ted Seides, Finding Mastery by Dr. Michael Gervais and Subconscious Minds by Thomas Miller and Majona, to name a few.

Andrew: What’s next for you?
Daniel: I am excited to share the unveiling of the renderings for our latest multifamily project in Hancock Park, 410 North Rossmore. This classic 1930s building, which is currently not up to safety city codes, needed to be rescued. In addition to a seismic retrofit and reconfiguration of the interiors, we will preserve the authentic facade of the building, adhering to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

We have selected the final design from Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) which includes the addition of four floors, gym and amenity space on the ground floor, coworking extension spaces throughout the building and a pool, spa, lounge deck and event space on the roof. Our renderings showcase 60% traditional and 40% co-living units throughout the building with the ability to house 225 residents at completion. The co-living units present an alternative and attainable housing model to serve the future growth of the neighborhood.

About The Maker | Daniel is the co-founder of Domos and also served as the founder and managing director of Real Estate Asset Partners, where he led the profitable acquisition, design and development, management, and disposition of more than +$300 million in commercial and residential real estate assets. While in this role, he also served as president and CEO of Sycamore Property Management. Daniel’s experience in asset, property, and construction management covers a range of markets, including California, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia to name a few. He holds a degree in business and managerial economics from UCLA.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here.

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