Diana Ketcham recently featured the late dean Norman Millar and Judith Sheine’s Sea Ranch House for the New York Times. The project is one of a series of homes along the California coastline exploring the intersection of postwar suburban development, ecology and Modernist architecture. Designed to be a progressive residential community, Sea Ranch was made to bring architecture and nature together.
In 1964, developer Al Boeke asked a group of architecture faculty at the University of California, Berkeley to design homes along a 5,200 acre sheep ranch north of San Francisco. The Sea Ranch came to be “the California architectural monument of the 1960s.” The series of wooden and concrete houses investigated the relationship between architecture and place., and by 1965, the “Sea Ranch style” became widely known. The community’s formative period ended in 1976, and today, a total of 1,769 houses dot the coastline.
Norman Millar and Judith Sheine designed a concrete and Cor-Ten steel house for Dr. Gabriel Ramirez. As a new homebuilder and radiologist looking for a lot to buy along the California coast, Ramirez wanted to work out of his house. He also wanted the home to embody the natural aesthetic that inspired him to build at Sea Ranch. “Sea Ranch still has an unspoiled quality that makes it unique,” he said. “No other place gave me the same sense of living close to nature, though it takes a community effort to preserve that.” He touched on the home’s materials, saying that, “There’s no paint, no plaster The concrete has the wood grain of the form and the rusty colored metal reminds me of the old barns up here.” The home features a mix of fire-resistant materials that recall’s the colors and textures of the ranch homes.