Los Angeles Architect: Richard Landry

Quebec born Richard Landry has a diverse and extensive portfolio of work to his credit. In three decades, he has designed over 500 homes, each one a unique expression of his creativity.

With celebrity clientele from Rod Stewart and Kenny G to Mark Wahlberg and Gisele Bündchen, this award-winning architect has been on the Architectural Digest AD100 list for more than a decade and on Robb Report Recommended since 2007, having also received many other awards and accolades over the years.

With clientele in over 16 countries, he is renowned for a variety of architectural styles and a service-oriented philosophy. Sprawling estates designed in classical tradition or mansions defined in modern expression — they all have one thing in common — individuality.

A full service design firm with architecture and interiors forming the core, Landry Design Group has consistently designed homes by focusing on cornerstones of quality, individuality, creativity and timeless elegance. Versatility and uniqueness are defining characteristics of a Richard Landry project.

In 2006, Landry Design Group published its first monograph “Modern to Classic: Residential Estates by Landry Design Group” featuring some of the firm’s most inspiring projects and illustrated with more than 350 colour photographs. A second monograph, “Private Estates: New Architecture by Landry Design Group” was released in December 2011.

What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture and design?

I knew I wanted to be an architect at six years of age, even before I knew the meaning of the word “architecture”. Architecture was something I never questioned. It was the only thing I wanted to do.

How would you describe your design philosophy?

I truly believe that the home is a personal statement, a direct reflection of the residents’ taste and sensibility. Therefore, the design of a house should be personalised. It should embody our clients’ desires, memories, aspirations and a lifetime of unique experiences. That is the reason why every house designed by Landry Design Group has its own personality. It is also the reason why we do not have a signature look.

For our clients, the architecture we create is a tangible reflection of their dreams and aspirations. We invent buildings that are as colourful and diverse as the people who inhabit them.

In terms of designing a private residence, share with us your approach.

Our architecture is developed by carefully listening to our clients, and searching for the intangibles that make them unique, by understanding their unspoken words, by reading between the lines, and finally, by following our intuition.

What would be the common denominator in such a vast portfolio of work, something intrinsically your style?

The common denominator in our work is creating liveable and functional spaces endowed with perfect proportions, balance, hierarchy, character and rhythm.

Have you worked on any luxury homes in India?

We are currently working on a project in New Delhi within the historic, Edward Luytens-master planned heart of New Delhi. It is exciting to be working in an environment planned by such a famous architect.

Most of the homes designed by you are palatial mansions and understated luxury is a defining element. What is your secret in making grand seem unimposing and an abundance of space feel so personal and comfortable?

Whether we are designing a château-inspired residence that reclaims the stately elegance of French architecture or a large and beautiful modern residence, our goal is to infuse the home with warmth and approachability.

We keep homes to a human scale by paying close attention to the proportions in each room and by adding a lot of detail, which imparts a sense of intimacy and comfort.

This can be achieved in a grand living room by layering intricate mouldings, patterns, rich materials and fireplaces. And, on the outside, layers of lush landscaping and exquisite exterior detailing can make an intimidating 50,000-square-foot estate suddenly feel welcoming. We bring down the scale of a large villa with special massing of the rooflines and the walls, so there is movement and it is not just a flat façade.

We also believe in breaking large spaces into smaller, more comfortable spaces, and creating rooms with multiple uses such as dining rooms that are also libraries, kitchens that are also family rooms and bedrooms that have sitting areas.

Your projects reflect a variety of styles. Are there any influences/styles which are more dominant /popular?

I often refer to the traditional-style homes that we do as “hybrid” architecture. In these homes, which are influenced by the past without recreating it, we synthesise historical styles with the contemporary lifestyle requirements of our clients.

Our non-traditional buildings explore new ideas within a contemporary context and expand on creative philosophies, without dismissing the lessons of practical living.

While adapting to a specific architectural language, both stylistic approaches allow us to explore the subtleties of spatial organisation, scale, material, texture, light, environmental issues and other significant factors related to the project and the client.

Modern architects such as Louis Kahn, whose buildings were executed with a rooted respect for the great architectural periods of the past, a love of building materials and a firm grasp of modern technology, and Mies van der Rohe, whose strong belief in structural expression was a continuation of Gothic principles, have each provided great inspiration to me, among many others.

In your long career spanning nearly three decades what are some of the most memorable moments or significant milestones?

The earliest milestone for me is probably getting to design a home for a celebrity, namely, Kenny G. Being on the Architectural Digest AD 100 List of selected international designers and architects since 2000; being awarded the Stars of Design award by the Pacific Design Center; and receiving many design awards as well as being recognised by one’s peers is a great honour. Going on to publish two well-received books has been quite exciting as well. Most of all, branching out and working in so many countries feels really good as I never dreamed I would be working in 16 countries one day.

You have received many awards and accolades and are a well-known name in the world of design. Share with us some of your interests and passions, which are perhaps less known, but keep you inspired and driven to be creative.

I never stop going through architectural magazines to look at good work throughout the world. And travel is a great inspiration. I am a very visual person, so what I see inspires me and becomes part of my memory bank. I find inspiration in so many things.

I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, exercising really clears my mind and lets the creative energy flow.

K Residence

The K Residence is a contemporary home that reflects sharp contrasts. Creating a bridge, as it were, between modern definitions and timeless elements. Juxtaposing light and dark, transparent and opaque, modern and traditional, to create a seamless architecture that combines linear design with natural materials. Located on a two-acre plot, the land is flat and the grounds are landscaped in a minimalist style. The idea was to have a wide-open space, with the covered loggia connecting the main building to the landscape. The Pennsylvania blue stone used extensively on the exterior walls also finds its way into interior spaces, thus connecting outdoor to indoor.

Situated on a flat, treeless lot in a gated subdivision, the house is introduced by a water feature: a reflecting pool strewn with natural stones, set at sharp angles to reflect the incisive lines and angles of Landry’s design. Its exterior is smooth stucco, detailed with Pennsylvania blue stone. The roof is copper, and the windows are framed in mahogany. To offset the starkness of the design, Landry placed wooden lintels over all the doorways and repeated their use inside.”

The entryway connects through the structure all the way to the back, highlighted with a two-storey foyer that has a skylight. Limestone floors complement the fireplace in Pennsylvania blue stone. This grand space connects to an outdoor loggia.

Light-coloured wood is used extensively throughout the home, and the family room has the same exterior cladding Pennsylvania blue stone on one wall, as well as the fireplace and frame for the plasma screen TV. Maple wood cabinets open up the space and keep your eyes focused on the custom designed sideboard that seems to be hanging in the air, while the floating ceiling adds visual interest.

The kitchen and breakfast continue the maple wood features, the former in the cabinetry and the latter in wall cladding. This serves to accentuate the stained mahogany window frames and highlight the island, which has a copper base and a granite top. The drop-ceiling makes its own statement with a glass lens to diffuse the light.

The Zen inspired master bedroom on the second floor is spacious as it is minimalist. The breathtaking views of the surroundings take centre stage, with the option of roll down screens. The doors to the balcony almost seem to disappear much like the one connecting the grand room on the floor below to the loggia thereby merging ‘within and without’ in a subtle manner.

The Pennsylvania blue stone from the exterior of the house is used inside yet again, this time, for the hearth and fireplace and to create a meditative alcove, sheltering a rough-hewn rock fountain on the balcony. “

The master bath carries the story forward using much the same vocabulary. You see another cabinet defying gravity here; the vanity is a floating island in the centre of the bathroom, sans hardware. The limestone bathtub designed by Richard Landry also seems to float above the floor, adding further to the sense of lightness in the space. Glass and pale coloured woods work well with the limestone floors and cabinetry in alder wood.

Georgian Manor House

This white-trimmed red brick Georgian manor house designed by Richard Landry could be mistaken to be located in the southern heartland, but it is a home inside a gated community on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

The clients, who shared an emphatic vision of the home they wanted, approached Landry Design Group to realise their vision of a residence on a high promontory overlooking a golf course and a bucolic lake.”

In sharp contrast to the earlier home featured, this one has landscaped gardens, which creates the illusion of a historical mansion with its long winding driveway and covered porte-cochère entrance. Neo-classical features at the entrance coupled with an iron fountain reflect the influence of colonial architecture in the design. However, in true Richard Landry style, while he has incorporated elements of 18th century design as well as 19th century ornamentation, the home itself is unique in its interpretation of architectural styles that are timeless and distinctive.

Landry designed the house on a Beaux Arts axis: all its rooms feed off of a central hall. The symmetry and balance of his design create a stately formality rarely found in recent Californian architecture.”

In keeping with the client’s brief, the refined architectural detailing and classical elements are well-defined throughout the home. The interiors are luxurious and lavish with a pronounced French influence.

In a daring rejection of minimalism, the Landry team used ornate mouldings throughout, using a combination of resin and plaster, and bordered the capacious rooms with layers of scrolls and seashells, festoons and cherubim.”

Ionic columns moulded from ivory resin frame the living room that add a kind of synergy with the exterior design elements. The wood and onyx fireplace was designed in close consultation with the client. The dark walnut stained wood flooring used throughout the interior complements the glazed walls in ivory that seem to reflect the light in a subtle manner. The lighting in the entire home is ornate and opulent with grand chandeliers, wrought iron sconces and fixtures in crystal and Murano glass. To make a space look grand and stately, high ceilings are almost a given, and this aspect is a predominant feature in the entire home.

While the homeowners admired the reserved formality of Georgian architecture, as the parents of five children, they wanted Landry Design Group to create a home for them that was classic and elegant, but also family-friendly.

Richard Landry put a great deal of effort into the indoor/outdoor aspects of the house, designing one of his signature-covered loggias overlooking the pool and gazebo. Framed by neo-classical columns, it is an inviting and informal space for the family to lounge or entertain. There is an open expanse of lawn, suitable for games, and play areas balance the formal gardens.