Ali Jeevanjee arrived at Crossroads School in seventh grade with “a knack for drawing and making things” and felt right at home. “Crossroads made sense for me,” he says. Encouraged by “great, great teachers,” he explored art and photography, but being a visual artist didn’t feel exactly like who he was.
Then, one day in 10th grade, driving through Santa Monica, he passed a house designed by famed architect Frank Gehry that used unconventional materials, including chain-link fencing as exterior walls. “I thought, ‘If that’s what architecture is, I want do to it,’” recalls Ali.
Ali earned his bachelor’s in architecture at Cornell University and a master’s in architecture at Harvard University. He worked with a number of LA-based artists and architects, including in the office of Frank Gehry. In 2006, he and his wife, architect Poonam Sharma, launched their own firm, LOC Architects in Downtown LA, and almost immediately won “Home of the Year” honors from Architect Magazine.
For the next several years, to support their growing business and family, one of them always held a salaried position with another firm. Then, several years ago, Ali and Poonam decided “this is the moment,” and took the bold move to both commit full-time to LOC. “What drove me was the sense that I had my own voice I wanted to speak with,” says Ali. “Getting the opportunity to do that within someone else’s company can be difficult.”
The result, he says, has been the chance to create “transformative experiences” for people. Crossroads hired his firm to design the new Kirschner Family Room for the Paul Cummins Poetry Collection and convert the W. M. Keck Math/Science Institute—a place where he recalls taking ninth-grade biology—into the new Humanities Building. “It was great to see the space with fresh eyes, open it up and breathe new life into it,” says Ali. “I enjoyed working with the entire Crossroads team.” LOC was also responsible for the redesign of the Pac Air Building, which now houses the Robinson gym, ceramics studio, darkroom and music rehearsal spaces.
Ali carries with him from his days in Crossroads’ Art Department the ability to be critical about his own work. And, with that, another valuable lesson: “Life is yours to invent as you go along,” he says. “It’s not about following a prescribed path.”