Sanchez House

About the family

The Sanchez family has lived in Watts since 1993. Carlos Sanchez and Juana Breseña immigrated to the United States hoping to make a better life. After they married, Carlos and Juana moved to Watts and had three children: Robert, Erica, and Martha. The family remembers Watts in the 90s as a difficult and challenging place to live but they persevered. When asked why they stayed, Carlos replied, “community.” For the Sanchez clan, community is more than living side-by-side with neighbors and getting along; community is about working towards a common good; community is a state of mind. This means that family, co-workers / colleagues, friends, and neighbors all fit within this concept. The Sanchez believe that living community everyday is an essential part of enriching their neighborhood and, by extension, the larger world around them.

About the project

The Sanchez family love their home but, with their limited income, they are unable to make any changes. They want to contribute to improving the look of their home and neighborhood wanting both to reflect the richness and history of the Watts Towers.

Areas of improvement

– Front fence (and perimeter): A new fence would greatly improve the look of the property. The most important aspects of the fence design: security, aesthetics, a balance between privacy and transparency. No specific materials requested

– Exterior of the house (walls, windows, lighting): painting the exterior is their most pressing need – the home has never been painted (no preference as to color but would like the home to look unique); lighting the porch is also important.

– Landscaping (front yard): This is important for the family because they often have visitors and other family members over for gatherings. Things to consider: open space with a welcoming look; plants should be drought resistant, low maintenance, and need as little water or fertilizer to maintain.

About the project team



Ana graduated with an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design in 2009. Her work has been featured in galleries throughout Los Angeles, including Steve Turner Contemporary, Samuel Feeman, Zask Gallery, and other venues around Southern California. She is currently participating in a group exhibition, Incognito, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Ana grew up in the small community of Maywood, CA. Surrounded by chemical plants, refineries, public waste areas and foundries, much of her work is inspired by her experiences of living in a place where odd smells and industry were ever present.


SWA Group is a world leader in landscape architecture, planning and urban design. Professionally focused and employee-owned, their foremost passion is to create exceptional places for their clients. SWA Group have a deep appreciation for nature and natural systems. They have a strong commitment to design that synthesizes aesthetics and sustainability. SWA works with large, multi-functional sites and small, intimate spaces.

Andrew Watkins, AIA LEED, is an architect, planner and urban designer at SWA in Southern California, having over 10 years of professional experience. His current work focuses on large-scale urban design projects that explore the confluence of ecology and urbanism. Andrew is currently Project Manager for an 800 acre master plan for Rancho Mission Viejo in Southern California and has recently completed several large scale master plans in China. He is involved in local and national projects having worked in the United States, China, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Botswana, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, and Mexico. Andrew has researched contemporary urban conditions related to ‘Ecologies of Gold’ which examined the relationship of Gold mining and informal settlements with ecology in Johannesburg, South Africa; ‘Villages in Development’ which investigated the viability of villages in the rapidly developing Pearl River Delta in China; ‘Opportunities of Contemporary Urban Transformations’ which studied urban infrastructural transformations in the rebuilding of Eastern Germany; and ‘Tall Buildings in the City,’ a research fellowship with Moshe Safdie that explored the potential of connecting tall building. Andrew’s research has been published in Places, 306090 and Architecture Plus.

Miguel Rivera, ASLA recently joined the SWA team in Laguna Beach. He is a graduate of the Landscape Architecture program at Cal Poly Pomona, 2011 with a background in Fine Arts and Graphic Design. Miguel interned with well known graphic designer April Greiman at Made in Space, Inc. before coming to SWA. He brings with him knowledge of graphics, book layouts, presentations, and typography. Miguel is passionate about all design fields and takes inspiration from all when designing. Projects that will make a difference and address issues affecting communities, art, design, infrastructure, ecology, and sustainability are what drives his passion in the field. Thus far, Miguel has worked on projects that span from California to China and is looking forward to many more.