The Sea Ranch is a planned unincorporated community located in Sonoma County, California, about one hundred miles north of San Francisco or 120 miles from Sacramento. The U.S. Census Bureau lists 751 residents at The Sea Ranch in 2000. The Sea Ranch Association conducted a member survey in 1996, and 297 residents responded that they live at The Sea Ranch full time. It is a world-renowned community, noted for its distinctive architecture, which consists of many simple, weathered-wood houses. Most homes do not have lawns or fences. Rather than structures dominating the landscape, The Sea Ranch concept of design and planning attempts to merge buildings into the landscape, creating a harmonious coexistance of man-made structures and nature.

Al Boeke, an architect and planner, found the beautiful coastline and forests endearing, and envisioned a community that would preserve the environment's natural beauty. Oceanic California Inc., a division of Castle and Cooke Inc., purchased the land, and assembled a team of established architects, landscape architects, and planners to begin the project. Principle designers included American architects Charles Willard Moore, Joseph Esherick, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. Condominium One (completed in 1965) was awarded the American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award in 1991, and was listed on The National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The architecture is postmodern vernacular in the Bay Area Tradition, but is commonly referred to as "Sea Ranch" style. Local building codes include various design guidelines such as exteriors of unpainted wood, a lack of overhanging eaves, and baffles on exterior lighting to ensure that the architecture doesn't detract from the natural beauty of the area. All public landscaping at Sea Ranch must be native plants, which gives residents and visitors a sense of being in a nature preserve rather than a formally landscaped development. In an effort to keep grass cut low to the ground, which poses a serious fire threat during the summer months, The Sea Ranch uses a herd of sheep throughout the community. This practical element in planning is a reminder of The Sea Ranch's origins as a sheep ranch.

 

 

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