Pacific Palisades, CA
The late Ray Kappe, FAIA, was Plant’s first design partner, responsible for the company’s famous Santa Monica show home (the first home in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification), a number of remarkable custom projects, and several LivingHomes. It would be extraordinarily difficult to quantify Kappe’s importance to Plant Prefab, to our clients who enjoy his homes every day, and to the greater built environment.
Kappe’s residential architecture is world-renown, characterized as 'the apotheosis of the California House.' His designs evince a mastery of warm, modern spaces, clearly expressed construction systems, and environmental sensitivity.
During his first ten years of practice, Kappe completed fifty custom post-and-beam houses. Exploring modular systems, prefabrication, passive energy, and active solar systems, his work spanned commercial, low-cost housing, condominium, hotel, and college buildings. He was involved in urban design and planning, social and community advocacy, and also served as professor and Founding Chairman of the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona.
In 1972, Kappe left his position at Cal Poly Pomona and joined with a group of fellow faculty and students to found the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). The SCI-Arc model of education encourages learning through creative discourse and supports diversity of opinion within the framework of a common vision. The school lives on as a world-renowned center of innovation, counting more than 5,000 graduates practicing all over the world.
When asked about the ten most important principles contributing to his success as an architect, planner, and educator, Kappe included “not accepting the status quo” (“being willing to explore, experiment, and invent”), and maintaining “good moral and social values”—two ideals that are particularly evident in his work with Plant Prefab.
Kappe’s many awards include the Richard Neutra International Medal for Design Excellence, the California Council/AIA Bernard Maybeck Award for Design, and the Topaz Medal, the highest award in architectural education. His own residence was designated a Cultural Heritage Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 1996.
I’ve always sought out the edges, the views, and a feeling of expansiveness."