The Sea Ranch, California, United States, March 12, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / The Sea Ranch Lodge reopened to the public in October 2021 following an extensive revitalization project that breathes new energy into the iconic property while preserving the original architecture and integrity. The remodel features architectural design by Mithun, landscape architecture by TERREMOTO, interior design by The Office of Charles de Lisle and construction by David Hillmer.
“With the restoration and reopening of The Sea Ranch Lodge, we are excited to honor the vision of the original developer and original group of architects including Al Boeke, Lawrence Halprin, and MLTW (Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull and Richard Whitaker)—stewardship and respect of the land, sustainability for The Sea Ranch and creating a gathering place for all Sea Ranchers,” said Kristina Jetton, general manager of The Sea Ranch Lodge. “As we continue to fulfill their original masterplan, we will always design and host experiences here that live in harmony with the natural elements that make The Sea Ranch so special. We look forward to welcoming Sea Ranchers, locals, visitors and the next generation of creators to dine at our new restaurant, walk the trails, enjoy a memorable event in the meadow, or simply come by and be inspired by this magical coastal setting.”
Set on 53 acres of spectacular Northern California coastline in Sonoma County, the iconic Sea Ranch Lodge was designed to respond to—and live in harmony with—the natural elements. The Sea Ranch Lodge includes a dining room, bar and lounge, café, general store, post office and extensive open space with views of the Pacific. Located 100 miles north of San Francisco along Highway 1, the Lodge exists within the greater 7,000-acre Sea Ranch community which consists of 2,200 private homes clustered at intervals marked by cypress hedgerows, undeveloped lots, sprawling meadows, rolling hills, redwood and Douglas fir forests, nature trails and ocean views across 10 miles of the Pacific’s coastal shelf.
Design Perspectives: History, Inspiration And Renewal
The architectural renovation of the Lodge was inspired by the original Sea Ranch architecture and the landscape behind its vision: the wind-shaped coastline and traditional barns. Lawrence Halprin, lead designer of the Sea Ranch master plan, directed architects to “focus on how to inhabit the land and protect the awesome character without softening it or altering it.” The Sea Ranch Design Guidelines put it this way: “This is not a place for the grand architectural statement; it is a place to explore the subtle nuances of fitting in—blending buildings into the existing environmental setting and the historical context.”
With those lessons in mind, Mithun’s goal with the Lodge was to simplify and clarify the original structure to focus the experience on the natural setting and exceptional views. We started with the removal of previous remodels, which had compromised the original building. We then continued to remove walls and partitions that had subdivided spaces, separating them from light and views. Spaces were opened and recombined to create a simpler plan with better connection to the exterior. Respect for the history of the building was fundamental to the design. Any required new elements were constructed in the simple agricultural language of the original with similar basic materials and details.
The Lodge experience was updated and expanded with the addition of a café to replace the previous reception/office area, integration of the solarium space into the lounge, and a new open layout for the kitchen which has also improved the dining room. The original building had followed the slope of the site, resulting in four slightly different levels at the main floor. These have been simplified to allow disabled access to all public spaces. Occupant comfort and building performance has also been improved with insulated windows, integrated sun shading, improved lighting, and a sound-absorptive ceiling in the lounge and dining rooms. The public spaces are oriented toward the true amenity of the Sea Ranch Lodge: a meadow rolling gently toward the Pacific Ocean.