Paul McClean was already the designer synonymous with glassy, expensive mansions in the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles, but when he signed on recently to help developer Nile Niami create LA's biggest and most expensive house ever—a 104,000-square-foot, $500-million monster on a hilltop in Bel Air—he might just have unseated architect Richard Landry as the Megamansion King of Los Angeles. The OC Register takes a look at McClean's rise to prominence, from that first Bird Streets mansion, to houses that drew attention from the likes of fashion designer Calvin Klein, to that record-setting Bel Air beast of a home. Let's get to know him:
— Dublin-born McClean got his start in the OC, but his business started to expand to LA after he designed a house in the Bird Streets above the Sunset Strip. In 2009, the house sold for $10 million, and "That lofty price during the height of the recession generated more business."
— The Winklevoss Twins—famous for suing Mark Zuckerberg—bought one of McLean's houses, located in the Bird Streets, for $18 million in 2012. Another Bird Streets house sold for $39 million. In 2014, rising Swedish DJ Avicii spent $15.5 million on a McClean-designed estate in the Birds. Last year, a house McClean designed sold to fashion designer Calvin Klein for $25 million.
— About 15 years in, he says he's designed "50 to 60" houses.
— Seven of those alone were for Irish real estate investor Paddy McKillen, "who commissioned McClean to design two homes in Laguna Beach, plus five others for himself and family members in Los Angeles."
— Although he designs the houses, he's technically not an architect: "He's been so busy, he has postponed the last of eight tests he needs to pass to become a licensed U.S. architect." Instead, he's just hired a licensed architect to work on his staff.
— After first working with Nile Niami in 2009 (on a mansion that sold for $8.25 million), they worked together on half a dozen other projects before Niami tapped McClean to design the Bel Air mansion that's being advertised as a $500-million trophy property. "McClean reacted in disbelief when Niami outlined his plans for the new Bel Air mansion, a palatial spread his team dubbed 'The One.'"
— For what it's worth, at least one experienced broker thinks the pricetag is pure bananas. "It has as much chance of getting $500 million as $500 billion. It's ridiculous. It's ludicrous, and everybody knows it's ludicrous. … It's an ego thing. Every agent knows he's not selling for that number," says an LA broker "who sells luxury homes around the globe."
— Niami maintains it's actually a really good deal at $500 million.
— The beastly compound is now "about halfway built." McClean says that it has about 74,000 square feet of living space in the main house (which has a 5,000-square-foot master bedroom, a casino, and a lounge with walls made of jellyfish tanks), and then additional space in a guest house.
— The house as it's planned also has a water treatment room and a cigar room, but "It keeps changing. We keep trying to find new things," McClean says. Previous reports on the mansion did brag that it had almost every amenity in the world.
— McClean "never set out to produce what may be Southern California's biggest and ritziest mansion. He merely dreamed as a wee lad in Dublin of designing beautiful homes." He came to California because of its connections to his biggest architectural heroes: Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, and Rudolph Schindler.
— More than half the houses McClean designs are 8,000 square feet or more, and "About 40 percent are between 4,000 and 8,000 square feet." So expanding his imagination to design a 100,000-square-foot estate was a challenge. "There are very few homes this size," McClean said. "We had to think of it in a different manner than other homes. We looked at hotels. We even looked at palaces because that's what this is, a modern-day palace."
— On such a big scale, there are lots of extras that are not standard for most of the homes McClean designs. "We have a full security center that comes straight from the Death Star," McClean says, plus a room just for flowers and passageways just for staff use. "The master bedroom alone is like a large home."
· Designing the world's priciest home: O.C. designer creates a plan for $500 million L.A. 'giga-mansion' [OC Register]
· Will Megamansion Architect Richard Landry Be the Guy to Spark America's Populist Revolution? [Curbed LA]
· The New Biggest Mansion in Los Angeles Will Ask $500 Million [Curbed LA]
· Calvin Klein Drops $25 Million on Bananas Mansion in the Hills [Curbed LA]
· Here's Swedish DJ Aviici's Insane Bird Streets Mansion [Curbed LA]