21 March 2008

Ecotripping: Sea Ranch and the NoCal Coast

My friend Laura, formerly known as "the one who rode in a Penske Truck with me for 5 days to move all of my worldly possessions to LA", came out to visit over Spring Break. I guess since we've established that we can coexist in a vehicle for hours on end together, we didn't shy away from the idea of going north for a few days to visit some of her family and to see a place called Sea Ranch, which many of us know of as an "environmentally sensitive housing development" from our architectural history classes. I'm interested in studying Sea Ranch for precedent research for my thesis, which you will hear about extensively at a later date.

The good news about this trip is that Laura and I chose a vehicle with MUCH better gas milage this time around.....we rented a Prius for the week, which are now being offered as rental options through Hertz (and probably other companies as well). So we got in our hybrid and we ventured through who knows how many of California's 16 climate zones to visit the exclusive coastal community 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco.

Upon seeing Sea Ranch first hand, I can definitely understand how the original developers and inhabitants felt they were treading less on the environment by living there. The landscape is mostly in its original state, maintained by a flock of sheep, and all planting around the homes is indigenous to the area. However, beyond a conspicuous lack of exterior ornament and painting, the houses themselves are not exactly pushing the envelope in terms of sustainable design. They are lovely and simple modern dwellings, and some of them have sod roofs, but you don't see very many solar arrays, for instance. With the availability of technologies that are making sustainable design easier for homeowners, why wouldn't Sea Ranch take advantage of that?

But enough of my schlock. Let's see some pictures!

Our trusty Prius sits and waits on the corner of California and Van Ness streets in San Francisco while we obtain some much-needed coffee

Fun house seen on Highway 1 (aka Dramamine Drive) on our way to the Sea Ranch.

Sea Ranch Lodge with the Sea Ranch logo, built by Charles Moore in the 1960's.

This one was my favorite, partly because of the green roof and partly because it looks like a design I did a loooong time ago.

This is a very typical-looking (perhaps an original?) Sea Ranch house.

The Sea Ranch Chapel, built by James T. Hubbell in 1985.

A detail shot of a stained glass window in the Sea Ranch Chapel.


liz said...

wow, this is awesome! i want to go to the sea ranch! when i read it, "sea ranch," i was thinking like a big ranch floating out in the middle of the ocean. like texas on an island or something. but this is cool too!

p.s. i am amazed you made it up highway 1 with the contents of your stomach intact...

emKem said...

I am amazed too! We almost didn't! That road is ridiculous!