California family has palace of steel


Lab: AK Steel Corp.'s desire to build a concept home meshed with plans by Ed and Madeleine Landry for a healthful house.

October 12, 2003|By Gregory J. Wilcox | Gregory J. Wilcox,LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Ed and Madeleine Landry's sprawling, soaring, mountainside-hugging house is steeled against the elements.

Built around a steel frame, it will withstand earthquakes, wildfires and just about anything else nature can dish out.

The 11,000-square-foot house includes a 1,600-square-foot guest house.

"What we ended up with is probably a house that is as earthquake-resistant as possible," Ed Landry said of the airy steel palace on the family's 130-acre mountain site with sweeping views of Simi Valley. "There's nothing on the exterior that can burn, needs paint, can be eaten by a bug or rust."

It's not likely to make them sick, either, because it's billed as the nation's first antimicrobial home. All of the products made from carbon and stainless steel in high-touch zones such as doorknobs, railings, food preparation areas and such have been coated with a compound that reduces the growth of bacteria, mold and fungi.

There is lots of blond wood, travertine marble on the floors, and African and Japanese art throughout.

"One of the things we like about this house is even though there are only two of us living here, we don't feel like we're rattling around in it," Landry said.

The modern home, which features 28-foot ceilings in the living room and what seems like acres of glass, did not intrude on the environment. Landry said they did not cut down a single tree but did plant 10,000 plants native to the Santa Monica Mountains.

They also installed six miles of drip irrigation and 10,000 water emitters.

The house shares star billing with the natural habitat and water features that include a waterfall and horizon pool.

But steel abounds.

About 200,000 pounds of it are in the house, making it a heavyweight in this rustic Box Canyon neighborhood. The framing weighs in at 81,000 pounds, the roof and gutters at 14,000 pounds, the 4,000-bottle wine rack at 10,000 pounds and kitchen ceiling panels and appliances at 9,000 pounds.

The antimicrobial coating covers 35,000 pounds of the steel, including air-handling duct work.

Best of all for the Landrys, it was free.

Middletown, Ohio-based AK Steel Corp. donated the material as a way to promote a new product. The antimicrobial coating was developed by Wakefield, Mass.-based AgION Technologies LLC, and AK developed a way to make it stick to steel.

AK had been thinking about building a concept house when it came across the Landrys' plans. AK Steel officials would not say how much the steel in the house cost, but a 2001 article in the Daily News put the value at about $500,000.

"We needed a demonstration laboratory, a high-visibility project to demonstrate the advantages of using steel construction," AK spokesman Alan McCoy said. "California was an obvious choice."

The Landrys were building an upscale home and, because Madeleine Landry had developed asthma after being exposed to chemicals used in termite fumigation, it was a good way to see whether products featuring AgION's antimicrobial coating are commercially viable.

"Public awareness of microbes has grown rapidly during the past few years, and with it so has the interest in products that can help address concerns for cleanliness," McCoy said.

High-end appliance maker Dacor donated kitchen appliances, including 36-inch and 48-inch professional ranges that cost $6,000 and $7,500.

Th ranges also have the antimicrobial coating. When the cooking is finished, the ranges hold the food at 150 degrees, which is out of the germ danger zone, said Bob Lewis, Dacor assistant vice president of product development.

"We want to see how it goes over," Lewis said. "We have not produced these antimicrobial [ranges] for the market, but we might just do that."

The Landrys will put the cooking equipment to good use. They like to entertain and can seat 48 guests for dinner in the dining room. They plan to share their award-winning home, designed by AC Martin Partners, with the community. They are involved in numerous charities and will open it for fund-raising events.

"We've always used our house for [civic events] for the community," Ed Landry said. "This is a new community for us, so we want to make it possible for groups to use the house."

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