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Megamansion architect uses slavery as defense of megamansions

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Richard Landry talks income inequality

Richard Landry, the LA-based architect who designs some of the most bloated and the most ostentatious mansions here and around the world, actually comes from some fairly humble beginnings, according to a new profile in Los Angeles Magazine.

The son of a carpenter, he grew up on a pastoral farm in Canada. He moved to Los Angeles in a beat up Honda Civic and lived in a “really shitty” apartment on Santa Monica Boulevard.

His is a bit of a Cinderella story. Recently named one of the 10 hottest architects by The Hollywood Reporter, Landry now owns multiple luxury estates of his own, and he’s bringing to life the real estate fantasies of the rich and famous, building such projects as:

  • A “tripartite French-style house on 30 lakeside acres outside Shanghai that is so big, construction workers navigate the site on motorcycles.”
  • A house for Tony Bates with a two-story wine cellar, a massage room, and a garage with turntable that will display Bates’ “car of the moment.”
  • A Tuscan-style mansion in Lake Sherwood with its own car wash and a 7,500-square-foot “man cave,” which features a 20-foot-long counter and five TVs.

The shocking news isn’t the size of these houses or their amenities.

It’s that Landry tells author Peter Haldeman that he doesn’t want to be known as the architect who designs big mansions.

That’s dumbfounding. That’s exactly what his firm keeps building. Its Instagram feed is proudly filled with photos and renderings of large “vacation retreats,” villas with “expansive gardens,” and chateaus with motor courts:

Asked by the magazine whether these lavish houses might be sending “the wrong message” in a time when “income inequality was a political catchphrase,” Landry was dismissive.

"It's always been unequal,” he replied. “Back to the Vanderbilts, back to slavery. I'll tell you that when you get to know them, my clients are some of the most generous people. They donate millions and millions to charity. They open their houses for fundraisers. Who am I to say 'Why does someone live in a large house in Beverly Park?' I'm here to build the best possible house for them."

Who is he to say? Only the influential architect who’s building them.