Landry currently has about a dozen homes under construction, including a French château in Beverly Hills that is the third home he has designed for business entrepreneur Alec Gores. "We spend a lot of time in France and love the architecture," Gores says. "So we asked Richard to design a home right out of the French countryside, something very informal. Whenever we're in France, we take photos of things that move us - a stone or slate roof, a spectacular entrance, a garden - and give them to Richard. He's a genius at taking all this data and understanding our vision." And Landry not only designed the ultimate château, but he also created a wonderful cobbled street between the home and the guesthouse. "It's unbelievable," says Gores, who is eager to move in this summer. "You'd think you're in Europe - an old-world street built from French stone, and wrought-iron-and-glass entry doors on a rubble-stone home that looks like it's been there for hundreds of years."

Though many of Landry's traditional-style projects are inspired by European architecture, he also does a fair amount of contemporary design; the entire spectrum of his work is showcased in the new coffee-table book Modern to Classic: Residential Estates by Landry Design Group. But when it comes to European-inspired homes, Landry is quick to point out that he's not doing historical re-creations. "If we were doing an authentic château, the windows would be small and you wouldn't have a house full of bathrooms - visit Versailles and you'll see that. Our clients want the charm and character of the old world, but they also want city or ocean views through large panes of glass, plus spacious bathrooms, open floor plans, generous closets, and outdoor loggias with fireplaces and televisions - features you wouldn't find in centuries-old architecture. If you study floor plans of these old homes, you'll see many things that wouldn't be practical today, [such as] a big ballroom. While we pay attention to historical precedent and use authentic materials, we must adapt to contemporary lifestyle, so we break some rules. Granted, breaking the rules is a risky thing to do. One must walk a very fine line, but I believe diverse architectural styles can coexist. I often refer to these resulting homes as hybrid architecture, influenced by the past but not pretending to re-create it."

Even Landry's barn-inspired home has contemporary adaptations. At each end of the house, there's an aluminum-clad silo - one features a marble-floored master bathroom with contemporary fixtures, and the other houses a steam room, which adjoins a high-tech gym that has wall-to-wall mirrors and a rubber floor.

 "I'm pretty much inspired by music, art, and everything I see, especially when I'm traveling," notes Landry. "I got a great idea from visiting old wine caves, which were often paved with gravel. For one client's wine cellar, we're using huge stepping-stones surrounded­ with gravel, adapting the original concept to today's lifestyle; that way, you get the same casual feeling without ruining your shoes. Not only is this a practical solution, but the cellar will make a beautiful place to entertain."

Although he didn't start traveling until later in life, Landry says the more he travels, the better he gets as an architect. "I realized how much you can learn from the world - every journey broadens my view and brings new inspiration."