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Marmol Radziner assembles a Venice prefab, and video captures the coming-together

ArchitectureArts and Culture

FOR ALL the buzz surrounding modern prefab architecture, few of these projects actually move beyond the conception stage to become built environments. The number of full-fledged modern prefab houses built nationwide in 2008 will be in the dozens, not hundreds.

Seeing a finished prefab house, let alone the installation process, is a rare treat -- which is why Los Angeles Times video journalist Carlos V. Uribe recently documented the construction of a new prefab in Venice. The modern, modular design is the family residence of Leo Marmol, managing partner of Marmol Radziner and Associates, the L.A.-based architectural firm regarded as a leader in the prefab industry.

Whereas some prefab projects are essentially kits of parts assembled on-site, the Venice house is composed of largely finished modules -- 12 feet wide, 14 feet high and up to 40 feet long. Most of the walls, flooring, countertops, cabinetry, doors and even some appliances were in place upon delivery from a factory in Vernon.

One of the benefits of this type of construction is speed: While the foundation is being prepared, the modules can be built simultaneously in the factory, where quality control is greater and bad weather won't cause delays.

Earlier this month, Uribe was on the scene as the Marmol Radziner modules were craned into place and secured to form a two-story house in just two days. For a rare glimpse of the process and interviews with Marmol and business partner Ron Radziner, look for Uribe's video, posted only at latimes.com/home.

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