You could say that Richard Landry is a household name, and not just in the sense that he is one of the most prolific residential architects of our time. Known as an “architect to the stars,” he has designed homes for Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, Rod Stewart, Mark Wahlberg and Wayne Gretzky among others, who have no doubt chosen him for his ability to turn the home into a place where they can feel special.
Growing up in rural Quebec, the French-speaking Landry left home at age 20 to study architecture in Montreal. In 1987, he founded his architecture practice in Los Angeles, where he designs residences throughout the world, effortlessly moving between modernism, French Chateau, Mediterranean and just about every style in between. Writer Paul Goldberger has called his style “American eclecticism,” an architectural tradition “that, at its best, has yielded masterpieces, and has also created a vastly larger quantity of decent and civilized buildings than it has been given credit for.”
More than 23 years and 400 residences later, Landry is still wowing his contemporaries. The award-winning architect has appeared on the AD100 since 2000 and his residences have been selected as Robb Report’s “Ultimate Home” for the last three years. Previews Inside Out recently spoke to him in an exclusive interview for Previews Homes & Estates magazine, which we have excerpted here.
Previews Inside Out Why do you think your work has appealed to so many celebrities over the years?
Richard Landry I’m very discreet. Privacy is everything to me. They are in the public eye so much that they are very protective of their homes. They also appreciate quality and the creative process, since many of them work in a creative arena themselves.
Previews Inside Out When designing a home for a celebrity, how do you balance their need for privacy?
Richard Landry They are, to me, normal people who have simply achieved a high level of success. And of course, every client is different. Some clients want their home to be very grand, while others want it to be more casual and intimate. Some celebrities are entertainers, so we would want to know about what sort of events they plan to host at their home in order to understand how people will circulate through the floorplan and where we should place the catering facilities. Other celebrities want to stay out of the public eye completely, so we might include a home theater, an incredible rec room, a bowling alley or a beautiful gym—so they can enjoy these amenities with their family and close friends in the privacy of their home. There is no pattern. That is why we ask a lot of questions in order to understand their lifestyle.
Previews Inside Out What inspires you as an architect?
Richard Landry Everything. When I travel, I can’t stop looking at every building and every detail. When I read magazines or books, I’m looking for ideas and inspiration. Nature is inspiring. I also love looking at the work of other architects and seeing how they resolve the challenges of their clients’ desires. Of course, it’s never about copying someone’s work.
Previews Inside Out How has your brand of “American eclecticism” evolved over the years?
Richard Landry We are inspired by every style, whether it is modern or traditional. I never tell a client that we are going to create a pure Italian Villa or a pure French Chateau. We make each home our own. We research each style within the context of the neighborhood or region, and we keep making it evolve. We look at what’s been done before and we take the next step and adapt it to how people live today. It could mean adding in new technologies or something as simple as adding expansive windows—which wasn’t possible many years ago—to take advantage of a view.
Previews Inside Out “Monumentality” is a word that is sometimes used to describe your work. What does that mean in the context of your work?
Richard Landry We don’t want a 40,000 square-foot house to feel like a 40,000 square-foot house. We want rooms that feel comfortable. So we try to keep a human scale to our projects and add a lot of detail. We use the height of the ceiling detail to bring down the scale of the room. We also layer intricate moldings, patterns, rich materials and fireplaces to make the larger homes feel comfortable. For a 100,000 square-foot home near Shanghai, we brought down the scale with special massing of the rooflines and the walls, so there is movement from the outside and not just a flat façade. The idea is to break large spaces into smaller, more comfortable spaces.
Previews Inside Out You have mastered the art of making 14,000-square foot mansions seem understated and unpretentious. If you had to choose only one characteristic or quality in a design that allows you to achieve this effect, what would it be?
Richard Landry Proportions and details. This combination is what makes a project successful.
Previews Inside Out From a design standpoint, what makes a home ‘luxury’?
Richard Landry It’s not just what you see, but what is behind the wall. Great construction means going beyond what is required. Quality execution, craftsmanship and great materials.
Previews Inside Out If you were going to purchase a luxury home anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Richard Landry Quebec and Malibu. I would rather buy smaller homes in many cities, than one big house in one city. I would make each house feel completely different.
Previews Inside Out Do you have any advice for someone looking to buy or build a luxury home today?
Richard Landry It must feel right. Don’t go after the trends. Go after what makes you feel special.
Richard Landry, AIA, is the founder of Landry Design Group, an architecture firm renowned for their designs rendered in a variety of styles throughout the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bahamas, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, India, United Kingdom, Switzerland, France and Russia. Landry’s firm has published two monographs, “MODERN TO CLASSIC: Residential Estates by Landry Design Group” and “PRIVATE ESTATES: New Architecture by Landry Design Group.”
PHOTOS BY ERHARD PFEIFFER