Terremoto and Charles de Lisle join architects Mithin to resuscitate a treasured California ranch

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The current COVID-19 crisis has only fueled the lure of The Sea Ranch, the quietly radical planned community that arose in the 1960s along 10 miles of breathtaking coastline in Northern California. The historic development – designed by a group of pioneering Bay Area architects and designers as a progressive haven centered on harmony with the natural environment – continues to sound its siren call, promising refuge from the hustle and bustle of contemporary life.

This fall marks the much-anticipated reopening of the Sea Ranch Lodge, an original structure that had been closed for the past three years after decades of unfortunate design interventions and deferred maintenance. Containing a variety of spaces for drinking, dining and living, all open to the public, The Lodge is also home to the local post office and a small general store. The second phase of the rehabilitation project will include the renovation of guest rooms adjacent to the main building.

Fabien Cappello pendant lights hang above a communal dining table personalized with Josef Hoffmann chairs for Thonet.

“The Lodge is the heart of the community, so its closure left a big void,” says Akemi Tamaribuchi, representing the building’s new owners, a group of investors dedicated to preserving the architectural treasure. The spearheading work of creatively leading the project and managing the myriad of complexities associated with working with the Sea Ranch Design Committee and the California Coastal Commission could not have fallen into better hands. Before assembling his team of collaborators, including the architectural firm Mithun, interior designer AD100 Charles de Lisle and landscape architects AD100 Terremoto, Tamaribuchi camped in a corner of the decrepit building. “I wanted to feel the history and the soul of the place, so I walked the trails, smelled the air, sat in every room,” she recalls. “I have given a lot of thought to the common sense and ambition of Al Boeke, Lawrence Halprin, William Turnbull, Joseph Esherick, Charles Moore and all the other architects and visionaries who brought this place to life.”

In the 2013 book by Donlyn Lyndon and Jim Alinder, The Sea Ranch: fifty years of architecture, landscape, place and community on the northern coast of California, The Lodge project was reportedly “initiated by Esherick’s office, but completed and executed by others, with Al Boeke leading the design team.” The spirit of these ancestors clearly guided the work of the renovation architect Sade Borghei of Mithun. “Our goal was to simplify and reduce, to redo this building from scratch, with entirely new systems and greater accessibility, while remaining true to the original vision,” he explains.


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