Danielle Champ takes a look at the architectural triumph of Hollywood producer Andrew Scheinman’s home from the perspective of the man who designed it: Chris Kempel 

Every custom designed home tells a story. Behind the sleek lines, innovative features, and craftsmanship lies a history of collaboration between architect and client. This month, we had the opportunity to speak to the architect that elevated a particularly interesting home from a mid-century modern aesthetic to a contemporary masterpiece. Hollywood Producer, Andrew Scheinman, whose credits include Seinfeld, A Few Good Men (1992), and When Harry Met Sally (1989), recently put his newly transformed Los Angeles mansion on the market for a staggering $17.8 million.  

Chris Kempel

Boasting rooftop ocean views, the home can be found on a private road above the coveted Lower Mandeville Canyon cul-de-sac. Its design was crafted and brought to life by Rockefeller Kempel Architects. Modern Home Builders had the privilege of learning from Chris Kempel, the mastermind behind the redesign of the Mandeville Canyon home, about the planning and execution efforts that go into making a project of this scale successful.  

Chris, a partner at Rockefeller Kempel Architects, sheds light on the transformation of the Mandeville Canyon property. “To say we remodeled the home would be a stretch,” he clarifies. “The two brothers, Andrew and Adam, were looking for a property on which to develop a spec home. So, we looked at a couple of properties, and then obviously found Mandeville Canyon. It was a lovely home,” Chris explains. The original structure, a charming mid-century modern home nestled in the serene surroundings of Mandeville Canyon, maintained the touches of thoughtful architecture. Yet, as Chris recounts, the needs of the client necessitated a departure from restoration to complete recreation. “Personally, it didn’t need to have much done to it, but as developers, they wanted to maximize profit, which meant there wasn’t really much we could do with the existing home, and as a result, we kept only two walls of the entire house,” he explains, emphasizing the magnitude of the overhaul.  

The walls were kept strategically to adhere to building regulations regarding proximity to the hillside. This decision, although rooted in regulatory compliance, also paid homage to the original footprint of the home. “The geometry of the house was preserved around the kitchen,” Chris shares, which also indicates how the decision and planning move outlines the balance between innovation and tradition. “Other than that, it was a completely fresh start.”  

When asked about whether he feels emotional seeing a home he designed go to market, Chris’s response is nuanced. He recounts an anecdote from an older project and acknowledges there is an attachment that clients often develop to their homes, especially ones that have been custom designed. However, in the case of the Mandeville Canyon property, Chris’s focus lay on ensuring that the client’s investment and dedication yielded the best possible returns. “I’m most excited about the sale price on this one, because I think that indicates the amount of love and energy we put into the project. But I think in this instance, it’s different because the project is a spec home – I’m sure I’d feel differently if it was their home,” he admits. 

That isn’t to say that Mandeville Canyon was without some epic features. Indeed, the fact that this was a spec home offered Chris the opportunity to try his hand at some of the more daring designs. One of his favorite aspects of the house is the entry hall. “The way the stairs ascend, the way the light comes down the stone on the wall in the evenings, and the spatial feel to it is all really beautiful,” he divulges.  

However, for Chris, the most interesting design is the water feature. “I’ve never done this before. It greets you at the front of the house, but the water flows away from you as you walk up the main stairs, and meanders around a corner. Then it travels underneath the second bridge, which then connects from the main house to the theatre room. It then waterfalls towards the front of the property. The whole feature is this L-shape plan and I just love it!”  

As our conversation draws to a close, Chris offers a glimpse into future endeavors. One project, in particular, piqued interest. He notes that he is currently working on a remodel in Malibu. According to him, the home is steeped in history and ripe for transformation. “It had a funky 70s design to it, but the work we’ve done to it has made it into an exceptional home. It’s modest in scale, and we’re going to photograph it in about two months, so call me up then and we can talk about that one as well!” Chris says with a chuckle. 

From his insight, Mandeville Canyon has proven to be more than a physical structure; it also serves as a testament to the transformative power of architecture. As the property begins the transition to new ownership, the hope is that the next residents will appreciate the home’s design for the beauty that was intended. And it would be difficult not to.