SCI-Arc Rememberances

Ray Kappe, founding director of SCI-Arc, dies at 92

Ray Kappe, the founding director of SCI-Arc, in 2015 (Casey Doug/Flickr)

Architect and founding director of SCI-Arc, Ray Kappe, passed away yesterday at 92 due to lung failure after battling pneumonia.

Kappe had been an internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953. Before starting the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1972, Kappe founded the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University of Pomona and was recognized as a pioneer in architectural theory and education. SCI-Arc is now considered one of the top architecture schools in the United States. 

As both a theorist and a practicing architect, Kappe’s work played a strong role in the legacy of early Southern California Modernism. “Only one architect truly signifies the seamless combination of Modernism and canyon vernacular, and his name is Ray Kappe,” Brad Dunning wrote in the New York Times in 2004. In 2013, Kappe was honored with the L.A. Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award for over 60 years in architectural practice and education. He had also been awarded the Richard Neutra International Medal for Design Excellence and the Topaz Medal, the highest award in architectural education. 

Later in his career, Kappe worked with the custom home fabrication company LivingHomes, where he practiced his extensive research and applied techniques with “warm, modern” prefab housing. Stephen Kanner, co-founder and former president of the Architecture + Design Museum in Los Angeles once said, “Ray’s own home may be the greatest house in all of Southern California.”

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