Anybody can build an expensive house as long as you have enough money. Cities like Beverly Hills and Los Angeles have had to write legislation to restrict the "Persian Palaces" which are often gaudy homes that include very high ceilings, tacky statures and are most notably massively over-built for the lot. Despite the high cost of building these homes, the don't include what most in the architectural world would call a well designed home. The style of the home be it traditional, Mediterranean, contemporary, modern or something else isn't directly related to the quality of the design of the house. Quality design has much more to do with the architecture of the house. How well does the home flow? How well are the living spaces designed? How to the rooms look and feel to the owner as well as the guest. How well does the home integrate with the native landscape? How well is the house situated on its lot. All of this factors into whether a home achieves the goal of high design.
One of the locations that architecture students flock to study real estate is Malibu, California as this 28 mile long "Hamptons of the West" is home to some of the most well designed homes in the world. Attracting a global audience, Malibu has pretty much every style of luxury real estate that you could ever hope for ranging from 1950's post and beam beach front bungalows to traditional homes to California Craftsman to sprawling Mediterranean estates to edgy, Ed Niles style modern homes. Malibu is a hard place to build in mainly because the restrictions that are imposed by the California Coast Commission. The rough terrain also is a factor in Malibu but that only makes studying the most high end homes in this area even that much more interesting and compelling.