Two ways to spotlight the idyllic architectural development on the Sonoma Coast

Along California’s Highway 1, past Bodega Bay and Jenner, 100 miles north of San Francisco, the rugged coastline is at times barely visible. Along the curving road, unpainted wood homes can be spotted through the trees and meadows. This part of the Northern California coast feels both earthy and otherworldly.

It is here that the Sea Ranch concept, a radical architecture experiment, aimed to become a model community with a commitment to “live lightly on the land.” It was conceived in the mid ’60s by developer Al Boeke with a group of architects, graphic designers and landscape architects. SFMOMA‘s exhibition “The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism” tells the story of this beacon of modernism using original architectural drawings and sketches, photography, and a full-scale replica of one of the first living spaces built there.


The exhibition focuses on the first few years of the Sea Ranch, when its idealism was the primary motivating factor in design decisions. For the exhibit, Becker and co-curator Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher wanted to find a way for museum visitors to experience the feeling of the Sea Ranch. This is why they decided to include the full-scale construction of a unit in Condominium 1. The unit, owned by Charles Moore, has been recreated with careful attention to detail. There’s even an Iwan Baan photograph of the Sea Ranch coastline and the Pacific Ocean.