PSST! Men of Steel
First steel-and-glass modular home in Palm Springs
Patrick Seabol and Ollin Trujillo, both of Modernist Modular Homes, with Kevin Juhnke, from the engineering department at Walden Structures in Riverside — one of five factories nationwide producing Seabol’s modular homes.
When developer/builder Patrick Seabol completes the first steel-and-glass modular home in Palm Springs this summer, he plans to invite a few people over — make that a few hundred.
In fact, more than 400 people have contacted Seabol after seeing his ads in design magazines or hearing about his projects through the modernist grapevine.
“It’s personally satisfying and thrilling to design a house around someone else’s lifestyle,” Seabol says. “For us, one size isn’t going to fit all. We know that multiple things are possible within the modular framework to make it work for each client.”
In 2004, Seabol built the first steel-and-glass home in Palm Springs in more than 40 years — since Donald Wexler’s famed residences of the same materials. Now he works on many modular houses.
In the mid-1980s, Seabol went to work for a firm that specialized in high-end, commercial and institutional modular manufacturing. “I knew at some point that modular would go residential,” he says. And he wanted to be part of it. “There are a lot of architects who were trained well in school, but don’t have the experience, background, and mindset to do modular homes. It’s a totally different beast. They’re not familiar with the production techniques and what is involved. So they end up with structures that are much more expensive to build.”
Seabol’s modular houses — with a steel frame, wood frame, or combination thereof — range from $150 to $200 per square foot. He claims that through efficient design work he can offer steel-and-glass, case study-style homes “without the cachet price tag.” After sketching a basic design, he collaborates with Ollin Trujillo, a graduate of California State Polytechnic University Pomona School of Architecture, who “polishes up the diamond in the rough.”
“I’m not going to be a popular person with people who are doing this [in other areas] but are charging more,” Seabol says. But for him, it’s not a popularity contest. “This is all I want to do between now and the end of my life: design and provide people with hip, sleek, cool houses without the premium price.”