At TOLO, we believe that the character of our built environment profoundly affects quality of life, so we work very hard to respond with intelligent, creative solutions, while remaining attentive to the client’s schedule and budget. Our portfolio is diverse, ranging from the design of arts-based projects, to single-family houses, to retail and restaurants, as well as larger projects such as hotels, multi-family housing, and mixed-use projects. Our approach is consistent across this range of projects, each design is developed in close working relations with the client, and with a careful determination of needs and constraints. We see every project as unique, with its own set of questions and opportunities, that demands its own design solution. We are proud that many of our projects have been cited for their level of inventiveness, social vitality, and accomplished craftsmanship in design awards and in publications. Our office space, located in an industrial warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles, contains a fabrication shop, which allows us to test the material characteristics of our designs by means of prototypes and scale models.
First established in 1998, the practice’s early work, led by Peter Tolkin, focused on the revitalization and redevelopment of buildings in Old Pasadena, a historic downtown shopping and entertainment district. Peter’s experience in Pasadena led to work in other cities, such as Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, and Long Beach. The practice has completed residential, retail and commercial projects throughout the region, including Pasadena's award-winning Saladang Song restaurant, the Sherman Residence in Encino, and the Sunglass House in Malibu. In Merced, the practice designed a series of mixed-use buildings, including retail storefronts and lofts, in conjunction with a comprehensive downtown revitalization. In Claremont, the practice was responsible for the planning of the West Village Expansion, a project encompassing retail, movie theaters, hotel facilities, and a town square. The practice’s winning proposal for the development of a two city block mixed-use project called Metlox in Manhattan Beach created a public space connecting the city’s civic center with its main commercial street. A number of these projects have received awards from the American Institute of Architects and many have been featured in publications such as Domus, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Dwell, Architectural Record, and Interior Design.
Renamed after Sarah Lorenzen joined as principal, TOLO has built on Peter Tolkin’s early success. Recent note-worthy projects include the Veilmetter Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, an art studio complex for a well-known artist, and several new houses in the areas affected by the Woolsey fire.
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Peter Tolkin, AIA
Peter is managing principal of TOLO Architecture. Peter founded the practice, previously called Peter Tolkin Architecture, in 2000. He invited Sarah to join his practice in 2015, and they renamed the firm TOLO Architecture in 2018. At TOLO, Peter advocates for the social and cultural agency of architecture, an approach informed by his prior work as a documentary photographer and his studies with American artists Allan Sekula and Lewis Baltz. Peter first rose to prominence in 2002 when Architectural Record named him one of its ten emerging international “Design Vanguard” architects. Since then his designs have been recognized with numerous AIA awards, a James Beard Foundation award, and with publications in the national and international press including The New York Times, Architectural Record, Dwell, Domus, Abitare, and Interior Design. Peter received a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Art History from UC Santa Cruz, a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University. Peter continues to practice photography as a complement to his architectural work.
Peter has served as board member of the Armory Center for the Arts, SASSAS, and AIA Pasadena Foothill, and he served on Pasadena’s Design Commission from 2007 to 2010.
Sarah Lorenzen, AIA
Sarah is principal at TOLO Architecture and an architecture professor at Cal Poly Pomona (where she was chair from 2012-2016). Sarah has practiced architecture for more than 25 years, working on a variety of building types including residential, institutional, and arts-related projects. Prior to TOLO Architecture, Sarah worked as a project architect at a number of award-winning firms in Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Sarah grew up in Mexico City and moved to the U.S. to attend college. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Drawing at Smith College and at the Atlanta College of Art, and has two Master of Architecture degrees, the first from Georgia Institute of Technology and a second Masters in "Metropolitan Research and Design" from Sci-Arc. Sarah has published and edited numerous articles on architecture and urbanism, and she has received multiple design awards and grants including several Graham Foundation grants, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a six-week travel fellowship to China. From 2007-2020 Sarah was director of the Neutra VDL House overseeing the restoration of this National Landmark and developing cultural and arts programming.
Sarah has served on the board member of AIA|LA and its nonprofit arm, ACLA, and was Chair of the Government Outreach Committee. In 2023, she received AIA|LA's Citizen Architect Award and in 2015 she was recognized with AIA|LA’s Educator of the Year Award.
Trenman Yau, Senior Project Designer / Project Manager
Trenman has been practicing architecture for over eight years and has experience in all aspects of design, permitting, and construction administration. He has experience working in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Beijing on a wide range of building types including single-family residential, commercial, restaurants, retail, installations, and landscapes. Since joining TOLO in 2018, he has managed the design of several single-family houses, adaptive reuse projects, galleries, and large-scale art installations including “Moving Chains,” and the studio/gallery complex we designed for the artist Charles Gaines. Trenman received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and graduated with a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree from UCLA in 2015.
Patrick Fromm, Senior Project Designer / Project Manager
Patrick has been practicing architecture for almost 15 years, working on a variety of building types including residential and educational projects. Prior to joining TOLO, Patrick was a Project Manager at several architecture and design-build firms in Los Angeles. Patrick has extensive experience preparing drawing sets for permitting and construction, specifying products and materials, coordinating with design consultants, and working with contractors throughout construction. Patrick received his Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree from the University of Kentucky in 2008. While a student, Patrick spent over a year studying in Germany and following his graduation, accepted an internship opportunity in Berlin.
Nyree Vertanessian, Project Designer / Project Manager
Nyree has managed the design, permitting and planning entitlements, and coordination of several single-family residential and arts-related projects while at TOLO. She also has experience with educational, institutional, and civic projects. One of her designs received the second-place Student Design Award from the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) in 2020. She holds an Associate in Arts (AA) in Engineering and Technology from Pasadena City College and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree from Cal Poly Pomona in 2020 with a minor in Regenerative Studies. In 2019, Nyree participated in Georgia Tech’s semester-abroad program in Barcelona, Spain where she studied under faculty from Georgia Tech and ETSAB (Barcelona School of Architecture).
Philana Kim, Project Designer / Project Manager
Philana has experience in all phases of the design and documentation process. Since joining TOLO, she has worked on a number of single-family residences, arts-related projects, restaurants, and furniture designs. She has also participated in various design competitions and most recently received an honorable mention for ARKxSITE’s 2022 International ‘Site Convent’ competition. Philana has also coordinated exhibitions for AIA LA’s Architecture Communities Los Angeles (ACLA) 2x8 committee, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship opportunities for the emerging young generation of architecture students in Los Angeles. Philana received her Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree from Cal Poly Pomona in 2020.
Marco Zhou, Designer
Marco is in his final year at Cal Poly Pomona and will graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) Degree in Spring 2024. In 2022-23 he was president of CPP NOMAS, the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, and he is currently vice-president of Cal Poly Pomona’s Chapter of the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society of Architecture and Allied Arts. He has won a number of scholarships and design awards, including HOK’s Diversity X Design Scholarship. Prior to attending Cal Poly Pomona, Marco received an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Architecture from Citrus College.
Past team members: Hien Nguyen, Brittany Jones, Shirley Hsu, Michael Pickoff, Socrates Medina, Albert Escobar, Ismaelly Pena, Denise Nugent, Parker Ammann, Lucia Sanjuan, Chris Crolle, Jeremy Schacht, Angela Uriu, Maria Iwanicki, Nuri Miller, Christopher Girt, Ted Rubenstein, Dina Lopez, Matthew Trujillo, Bill Bungartz, Josh Avina, Alex Hernandez, Harold Ornelas, Natalie Magarian.
We are looking for a highly motivated Job Captain (minimum of 5 years experience) to collaborate with us on a variety of single-family residential, commercial, and arts-related projects (arts spaces and installations in collaboration with artists).
Candidate should have excellent technical and design skills, enjoy working collaboratively, and be capable of managing multiple projects with support from TOLO Principals (Peter and Sarah) and others in the office. Candidate should have a minimum of five years construction documents experience, experience with Construction Administration, and have an interest in non-standard design and construction detailing. We are especially interested in people that have experience with custom single-family projects and small commercial/hospitality projects.
- Professional Bachelor or Master of Architecture degree
- 5 years minimum of full-time work experience, including experience leading Construction Documents, experience with Construction Administration, and processing documents with the building/planning department.
- Excellent design and graphic skills.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, fluency in English.
- Skilled in the use of Rhino, AutoCAD, Revit, and Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator).
- Currently lives in greater Los Angeles (Note: we do not provide sponsorship for international applicants).
Please include a resume, relevant work samples, the names of 2-3 references with contact info as a pdf document (10 mb maximum) in an email addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please write “Job Captain at TOLO” in the subject line. Salary will be commensurate with ability and experience.
No telephone calls please.
Address: TOLO Architecture, 1024 Wilde Street, Los Angeles, California, 90021
Phone: 1 213 278 0678
Pleased that our entry to the Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles was selected for Honorable Mention recognition in the Fourplex category.
Peter Tolkin collaborates on Todd Gray's exhibition "Cartesian Gris Gris" at David Lewis in New York.
The Vielmetter Los Angeles gallery we designed with Susanne Vielmetter and Anderson Studio is now open.
Our XYYXXY All-Gender Accessible Bathroom Pavilion is exhibited at the Villa Terrace Museum in Milwaukee.
Article by Charles Donelan on our recently completed Branch House in Montecito featured in the Santa Barbara Independent.
Our installation "Red Carpet in C" with the artist Yunhee Min at the Culver Center for the Arts in Riverside is featured on KCET.
Our experiment in designing an inclusive bathroom is published in the first issue of the print magazine Ed.
Tilted Tower, a collaboration with the artist Charles Gaines, is shortlisted for the High Line Plinth in New York City.
Peter Tolkin and Mabel Wilson present their joint project Scenes from Ghana at the Graham Foundation in Chicago.
Excellence Award, Residential Concrete Building Category, Southern California Concrete Producers, Sunglass House
Award of Excellence, Design Concept Category, Los Angeles Business Council, Pasadena Bike Transit Center
Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Pasadena / Foothill Chapter, Metlox Development
Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Pasadena / Foothill Chapter, Marmion Court Housing
Excellence in Design Award, Architecture Category, City of Claremont Architectural Commission, Claremont Village Square
Excellence in Design Award, Public Art Category, City of Claremont Architectural Commission, Claremont Village Square Fountain
Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Sunglass House
Honor Award, American Institute of Architects, Pasadena / Foothill Chapter, Saladang Song Restaurant
Certificate of Recognition, California State Assembly, Saladang Song Restaurant
Architectural Record’s international “Design Vanguard”
Citation Award, American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter, Saladang Song Restaurant
Restaurant Design Award, James Beard Foundation, Saladang Song Restaurant
Creative Design Award, Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, Saladang Song Restaurant
Excellence Award, Southern California Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Sherman Residence
Whittier Conservancy Award, Flag Shop
Long Beach Historic Society Award, Z-Gallerie
Sarah Lorenzen to participate on the panel discussion: “Navigating Institutional Hierarchies in Development, Design & Education,” with Gabrielle Bullock, Mia Lehrer, Heather Roberge, Michelle Morehead, and Sarah Lorenzen. The panel held on Wednesday, June 28, focuses on the panelists career trajectories and meanders and provides practical advice for women to progress in the industry.