Q&A: Architect Ray Kappe Talks California Architecture and Designing Mr. C Residences

The famed architect shares his inspiration for Mr. C Residences in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles native Ray Kappe is often called the California Modern Master. Through a career that has spanned nearly 65 years, the award-winning architect has designed homes in the spirit of early California master architects such as Wright, Schlinder, and Neutra. “I don’t consider it a style,” he says. “It is the architecture of our time, using technology as it evolves and responding to the client’s program, intelligent structural methods, and environmental response to site, climate, and sun.”

Kappe recently worked with codevelopers Alex and Bob Ghassemieh of Atlantic Pearl Investments to create Mr. C Residences, a collection of five two-bedroom residences situated across from Mr. C Beverly Hills. Kappe and interior designer Marcello Pozzi worked in tandem to create airy, open-concept interiors that showcase the best of California living.

“I wanted to complement the architecture without being invasive,” Pozzi says of his inspiration for the fully furnished, turnkey residences. “I did this by incorporating glass furniture, iconic upholstery pieces, and custom built-in teak millwork crafted into the architectural composition to play off the building’s horizontal planes.”

We talked with Kappe to find out what role nature plays in his architectural plans, his vision for Mr. C Residences, and how he maximized those stunning California views in his latest project.

How does California influence your design decisions, and what role does nature play in architecture?

We have greater freedom and an excellent climate [in California]. For me, nature is extremely important, and I try to save every existing tree and use proper materials to help accomplish the goal of being a part of nature.

Do you have any favorite materials to work with?

I enjoy working with natural materials—wood, glass, and one masonry material. I believe in keeping these consistent throughout the project.

What was your design inspiration for the Mr. C Residences?

The design evolves from the program, the site, the constraints, and the desired views from the units. As in most projects of this type, the parking requirements determine the number of possible units. In this instance, the number was five. We felt that five four-story attached units would provide the best solution and give each unit the feeling of an individual home with its own entry, elevator, and stairs.

How did you maximize the views? And why did you choose to spread each home out over multiple stories?

The major views were to the north, and we provided as much glass as was allowed by code as well as balconies on each floor. The south side has minimal glass in the two end homes and maximum obscure glass in the three central units that house luxurious bathrooms on the bedroom floors and a dining/sitting area at the living room and kitchen floor.  This dining/sitting room can be completely opened to provide an equivalent of an outside deck. Also, to design them to be compatible with the hotel, we used plaster painted white with a horizontal glazing emphasis in contrast to the verticality of the 10-story hotel.

What are luxury buyers looking for?

They are looking for a large master bedroom, a special kitchen and bathrooms, a media room, a work place or places, and a feeling of space.

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