This story first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
When Mark Wahlberg went looking for an architect for his 6-acre slice of prime Beverly Hills real estate, he zeroed in on Richard Landry, one of the city's most in-demand designers and the hands-down king of Beverly Park mansions. Hot off the heels of completing Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady's eco-manse in Brentwood, the Quebec-born architect has become the go-to dream-home designer for a certain set of clients who like their homes highly personalized, utterly private and extremely plentiful when it comes to square footage.
As Landry enters the homestretch of the Wahlberg project, which has been under construction for nearly two years with builder John Finton, the French manor-style mansion finally is taking shape. All told, the main house and guest buildings add up to 30,000 square feet (Bundchen and Brady's home, by contrast, is almost exactly half that size; and Wahlberg's former Beverly Hills residence, which sold in October for $12.995 million, measured a mere 11,500 square feet). But Landry is quick to point out that the Wahlberg family's new manse isn't gratuitously grand. "My goal always has to go with finding the right proportions. It is not about building bigger and bigger homes," says Landry, who has designed houses for Haim Saban, Wayne Gretzky, Sugar Ray Leonard and Rod Stewart in various architectural styles. "There are no ginormous rooms here -- there's no ballroom, no bowling alley, no indoor basketball court. I've done most of those kinds of things in other projects, but here it's really a good traditional family house with no craziness to it."
In this case, the traditional family house includes a home theater, wine cellar, large-scale gym, a double-height, wood-paneled library, a putting green and a large, rock-scaped pool with a waterfall and diving rock that Landry had built into the hillside location.
Add to that a 2,200-square-foot loggia with coffered ceilings, limestone floors and a fireplace. The only thing the outdoor room will lack, he says, are glass windows. "There's even going to be drapery for the outdoor room."
But it turns out that the Wahlberg estate is downright diminutive compared to some of Landry's other projects -- a series of far-flung projects with mind-boggling square-footage statistics.
The architect is building a 32,000-square-foot contemporary in Bahrain, a 200,000-square-foot French-style single-family home near Shanghai and a 250,000-square-foot, eight-building, hypermodern compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Then there's the high-end subdivision in Qingdao, China, that will include 40 homes that will be 25,000 square feet each. "For all of these, I'll be using the same materials I use here -- French limestone, bronze windows, Vermont slate. Those are the kinds of products going into these homes," he says. Countless other projects in China, Malaysia and Japan also are being developed by Landry, along with his staff of 45.
Add up all of his current residential projects in China alone, and the grand total comes to 8 million square feet of Landry-fied territory. And don't think cookie-cutter design: "I don't repeat floor plans," he says. "And I never copy myself. Nobody else has a Gisele house, even if they wanted it."
But if there's one thing the architect wants to make clear, it's that he is in no way a size snob: "I am just as passionate about smaller projects, and we are still doing many of them," he says. "We just finished a 4,000-square-foot guest cottage in Malibu. It was just a little folly, and that is just as fun for me."