Why Amazon Is Betting You’ll Buy a Million Dollar Prefab Home
Designers have long tried and failed to take modular mainstream. Can this Amazon-backed entrepreneur make prefab more than just a fad?
Steve Glenn is in his sun-drenched, airy, modern 2,500 square foot home blocks away from the Santa Monica beach, reducing his career to a series of missed moments. He explains that in 1994, he was co-director of Walt Disney Imagineering’s virtual reality studio, decades before VR became a thing. Next, he co-founded PeopleLink, a social network that preceded Facebook, and shut down in 2001, three years before social media was even a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. In his twenties, he even sold a company he co-founded — software startup Clearview — to Apple, soon after the computer maker debuted the Mac. But since then, it seems like he’s been waiting for that big moment.
The tour through the 55-year-old’s career could easily be interpreted as one big humblebrag, but for Glenn, it amounts to 30-some years of bad timing. “I’m a too-early entrepreneur guy,” concedes Glenn. “I lost an insane amount of products and business opportunities before others. That’s been a talent I’ve had.”
Success for Glenn, like many entrepreneurs, is being able to land that one big exit, something that he has never been able to quite grasp. His floor-to-ceiling glass paradise, with its raw cement floors, and Dwell-worthy eco-friendly corkboard finishes and sliding wood panels, should symbolize, at least superficially, all that he has accomplished. But for Glenn, it’s a constant, if not tangible reminder that he has a lot riding on finally getting it right. After all, this is not just the home where he has lived for the past 14 years; it’s also the showroom for his latest gambit, Plant Prefab.
Prefab has long been the unattainable unicorn of architecture, the ideal marriage of high design, efficient building, environmental consciousness, and affordability.