The late Ray Kappe, FAIA, is renowned for his residential architecture which has been characterized as 'the apotheosis of the California House.' His designs evince a mastery of warm, modern spaces, clearly expressed construction systems, and environmental sensitivity . “I’ve always sought out the edges, the views, and a feeling of expansiveness,” Kappe said.
During his first ten years of practice, he completed fifty custom post-and-beam houses. Exploring modular systems, prefabrication, passive energy and active solar systems, Kappe has completed commercial, low-cost housing, condominium, hotel and college buildings. He has also been involved in urban design and planning, as well as social and community advocacy. Responding to a question about the ten most important principles that helped make him a successful architect, planner, and educator, Kappe included the following two: “Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent. Do not accept the status quo;” and “Maintain good moral and social values.”
In 1972, after three -and-a-half successful years as professor and Founding Chairman of the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, Kappe resigned. With a group of faculty members and students, he started 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. Today the school is 34 years old, with 3,000 graduates working and teaching all over the world. It is considered one of the top architecture schools in the country.
Kappe has received many awards including 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. Stephen Kanner, President of the A + D (Architecture + Design) Museum in Los Angeles wrote, "Ray's own home may be the greatest house in all of Southern California."