Perfection On The Strand

Perfection On The Strand
Written by: Lynn Morgan
Photography by: Scott Mayoral

The sculpted, stainless sell door, a work of art on its own, pivots on its axis, inviting guests into this 5200-square-foot, concrete, steel and glass Ray Kappe designed house on Manhattan Beach’s world-famous Strand, inches from the sand and sea.

Inside, a three-story atrium, paneled in teak, is filled with exotic plants. A floating staircase, with glass steps leads to the media rood, three bed-rooms, six baths and a pool deck. For the less athletic, there is an elevator.

A published work by the acclaimed architect, Ray Kappe, the founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and one of the pillars of modern California architecture, the house was commissioned by its current owner and completed in the late 1980’s. An expression of the award-winning architect’s obsession with views and vistas and the dissolution of boundaries, the house has been scrupulously maintained with reverence for its architectural history and heritage. Upkeep and current restoration was coordinated by Tim Petersen of the highly regarded Petersen-Wozniak, Inc., construction company. The house stands as a prime example of the architect’s work and vision. Kappe is dedicated to creating spaces than enrich the experience of those who use them, and the house is the distillation of the Southern California lifestyle at its most enviable.

“It’s been maintained in the spirit of what the owner and the architect intended,” says realtor Gerard Bisignano of South Bay Brokers, who is handling the listing with Crosby Doe of Crosby Doe Associates in Beverly Hills.

Crosby Doe, who specializes in architecturally significant properties, is a great admirer of the architect who, in his eighties, continues to work. “Raymond Kappe has continued and expanded the great tradition of California Modernism, says Doe.” While never forgetting the past, he “creatively continues to move forward in terms of envisioning and redefining unified systems for living.”

Located on a northern corner and cradled in the curve of the coastline, the house commands a Queen’s Necklace view that extends from the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina to the south, and north all the way to Malibu. The architect studied the site and designed the house in perfect harmony with its surroundings. “Kappe is always conscious of the site as first principal,” Doe explains.

Like many South Bay homes, its design was influenced by both nautical and aeronautical design. With homage to the curvilinear lines of 1940’s streamline Moderne and Richard Neutra’s use of curved forms, Kappe’s design playfully evokes a glamorous passenger ship, with a “cockpit” canopy covering the private staircase leading from the master suite to the roof top deck.

Kappe’s design makes abundant use of floor to ceiling windows throughout to take full advantage of the vistas. Space flows both horizontally and vertically throughout, drawing your eye both upwards to the glass canopy above, and outwards, towards the sea. Due to building restrictions enacted later, it is no longer possible to build a house of this size on a similar lot in Manhattan Beach, and this is one of the few houses in the city with a rooftop swimming pool. Now, nothing can be built that will overshadow this house or obstruct its view in any way.

“It’s a very sexy, romantic house,” says Bisignano. “It’s a fantastic weekend retreat for someone who wants a second home, or for somebody who wants to get out of the city and live at the beach full time. It would be perfect for an athlete or a celebrity who is looking for a private place to relax and entertain friends.”

The living room combines living and entertaining spaces with a galley-inspired kitchen and a 300-bottle wine cellar at its rear. The open, concrete and steel fireplace, one of three, is typical of Kappe’s designs, and a radiant heating system beneath the granite floors chases away the chill on cool nights.

Above, the master suite is open and light-filled, a loft-like space that projects outward, over the living room, sharing its monumental windows and spectacular views of the beach. The bed is completely surrounded by curtains that can enclose for privacy and darkness. Above, a translucent Japanese-inspired screen can be retracted, opening the high-ceilinged room to the domed skylight.

The adjoining master bath is an indulgent private spa, featuring his-and-her water closets, a freestanding, black tile Jacuzzi tub and an immense granite and tile steam shower with its own view into the swimming pool from below the water’s surface.

The master bedroom has its own private staircase, leading to the rooftop deck and lap pool. White steel railings carry on the steamship theme to the summit of the house. It is an ideal space for poolside parties or just sunbathing.

The house embraces its location, and Bisignano adds, “The location embraces it.” At every turn, Kappe’s design takes full advantage of the breathtaking location. He designed the patio and three balconies to offer opportunities to experience the sun and see in private or share it with guests. The house is at one with its magical environment: the sound of the waves, the sea breezes and clear costal light are as much a part of its design as a metal, stone, wood and glass of the structure.

“It’s a great neighborhood to live in.” says Bisignano. “It’s close to downtown Manhattan Beach; you can walk to great shopping and restaurants from here. It has all the sophistication of Westside living, but it’s more relaxed. It’s very friendly and family-oriented here; the public schools are great and parents get really involvled. It’s a wonderful community to live in.”

The South Bay location offers a welcome respite from the more harried pace of urban living. “A lot of people move here to be close to the city, but not in the city,” Bisignano continues. “It’s not a long commute into Los Angeles, but it feels as if it’s a world away.”

The house affords a sense of privacy, without isolating. “The fact that this house displays an almost castle-like sense of security and shelter while remaining open and embracing the very public beach is amazing,” says Doe.

Ray Kappe realized the owner’s dream of the perfect beach retreat, and now it is available for sale, an unparalleled opportunity to own an architectural masterpiece in a peerless location. The special preview is an introductory look at the significant residence before it officially lists after the first of the year. Please call for pricing.

“The house is powerful,” says Doe. “It expresses power on a number of levels, yet at the same time, the residence invites a casual, open “let the party begin” beach living lifestyle. There is nothing like it.” Additional images may be viewed at www.HouseAtTheBeach.com and www.Architectureforsale.com.

(Article was transcribed from original text in Southbay Magazine – Holiday, 2009 – Volume 3, Number 6)

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