A modern masterpiece of glass and redwood, the home of architect Ray Kappe is often referenced as one of the greatest residences in Southern California.
Designed as a family home some 50 years ago, chez Kappe is an exquisite tree house that sits amidst sycamore and eucalyptus on a hill in LA’s Rustic Canyon. It looks much the same today as it did a half-century ago—a contemporary extension of the early SoCal glass-house tradition, begun decades earlier by architects like Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, and Harwell Hamilton Harris.
Situated on a steep slope on a property that has natural springs running through, the raised house is built onto six concrete towers whose 600 square feet of surface area support the entirety of the 4,000-square foot home, which has become one of Kappe’s most celebrated works. The Minneapolis-born architect founded the architecture department at California Polytechnic State University at Pomona (Cal Poly) in 1968, and went on to create the prestigious Southern California Institute of Architecture in 1972.
Kappe retained his residential practice throughout, and has leant his name to countless residences around the world, in addition to working with prefab housing and serving as a trailblazer in the sustainable design movement. “The house works so well you don’t even notice its age,” says director Matthew Donaldson. “It’s the real deal; not a piece of furniture has changed, and the house is used every day and has brought up a family. It’s like they got it right and didn’t need to change a thing—surely that’s a sign of great architecture?”