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Ray Kappe papers, 1954-2007

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Kappe (Ray) Papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The Ray Kappe papers offer comprehensive coverage of his long and varied career, which began in the 1950s and encompassed roles as architect, planner, and educator. The archive highlights Kappe's role in furthering the strong California tradition of designing buildings in tune with nature, of experimenting with prefabricated building components and modular planning, and of addressing such issues as sustainability. The collection is therefore a valuable resource for studying important developments in post-war California modernism, including the development of what is today known as "green" architecture. The collection is also a useful resource for studying the recent history of architectural education, as Kappe directed programs at both California Polytechnic University, Pomona and Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), one of the country's most influential and experimental schools of architecture.

The project records in Series I form the core of the collection. Representing the first 50 years of Kappe's career, the series encompasses the majority of the architect's oeuvre. Included here is Kappe's early independent work and his later work under the firm name of Kappe Architects Planners, as well as projects from the intermediate period of his career as a partner in the firms of Kahn Kappe Lotery Architects Planners, Kahn Kappe Lotery Boccato Architects Planners, and Kappe Lotery Boccato Architects Planners. The archive does not contain Kappe's most recent work initiated or completed after 2003, such as the energy-efficient residences designed for Steve Glenn's LivingHomes. Comprising over 300 executed and unexecuted projects ranging from large and small residences to office buildings and parks, the archive holds drawings and models, in addition to sketches, photographs, and project files, and it provides documentation on major projects from the early, middle, and later phases of Kappe's career. Included, for instance, is the groundbreaking house Kappe designed for his own family in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles in 1965, which heralded the architect's expert use of post-and-beam construction and an elevated design system that allowed the building to nestle sensitively on its awkward hillside site. Represented, too, is the 1977 Borghei House (Santa Monica Canyon) in which Kappe responded to new building code restrictions by using concrete-block construction and smaller window apertures, and the 1993 Shapiro House (Santa Monica Canyon) that saw Kappe experimenting with steel frames and poured concrete while still emphasizing his core principles of uniting interior and exterior spaces and foregrounding energy efficiency and modularity. A particularly interesting portion of the archive consists of planning projects undertaken by the partnership firms, such as those prepared for the cities of Inglewood and Compton, that highlight a commitment to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and commercial districts.

The two subsequent series document other facets of Kappe's professional life. Series II comprises his teaching materials and administrative records during his tenure at Cal Poly Pomona and SCI-Arc. This documentation reveals Kappe's interest in redefining architectural education through experimental curriculum and practice. Series III is composed of all other materials, aside from the individual project files, relating to Kappe's professional affiliations and role as a leading Southern California architect and planner. He maintained ample records of his decades-long involvement with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and with the Los Angeles Goals Program, including his Urban Design Committee collaborations with future partners Herbert Kahn and Rex Lotery, in addition to preserving documentation of others citing his work in a variety of media. The series also highlights his interest in energy conservation, urban design, and affordable housing.


Arranged in three series: ; ; .
Series I. Project records, 1954-2003, undated
Series II. Faculty papers, 1966-2002, undated
Series III. Other professional papers, 1959-2007, undated

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