I’d like to introduce you to the Sea Ranch Chapel in Sonoma County. When I first moved to California in 2001, I did a lot of trekking along the coast to acclimate myself to my new home. Having always loved design I had heard of Sea Ranch, a planned community known for it’s distinctive architecture, and decided to visit. What I didn’t expect to find and was completely delighted with was the Sea Ranch Chapel. Sea Ranch Chapel is a non-denominational sanctuary for prayer, meditation, and spiritual renewal. The Chapel was a gift from Robert and Betty Buffum, who envisioned this meditative spot and created it from inception through execution with the help of James T. Hubbell, the architect. It was their hope that all who enter will find a measure of peace in the blending of art and purpose amid surroundings of beauty and inspiration. The roof gives a sense of a sweeping and lifting movement. Its structure is inspired by winged forms, yet can be read in a number of different ways. I’ve heard it describe as evocative of the oceans waves, a bird in flight, a mushroom, a ladies hat and a ladies sweeping skirt!
Panorama of the chapel interior courtesy of Ian Wright Photography
The materials used range from the cedar roof accented with copper and bronze, to teak doors and redwood throughout. Hubbell, who is from San Diego assembled a local team of craftsman, sculptors and landscapers to realize his vision…one that evokes a sense of harmony with its surroundings by echoing elements of the forest, meadow, and sky.
The Chapel is dedicated to the memory of Kirk Ditzler, a young artist, aviator, and zoologist who believed that art is the intermediary between the physical and the spiritual. Ditzler’s drawings influenced the design, and the soaring lines of the structure and are reminiscent of his art.
The Contractor, Bruce Johnson said that “the building is not intended for one community, but for whoever should find their way to the Chapel”. I found my way there in 2001…and, in 2005 I married my husband there, in the eyes of nature and 21 family members. For me, Progressive Architecture Magazine said it best…
“Inspired by drawings of winged forms, the Sea Ranch meditation chapel resembles a fluttering object that has alighted in the meadowland between the ocean and the coastal mountains, a UFO that was summoned here and may one day take off again. For now, it is cradled in a stonework base; a stone path surrounds it and merges with other stone formations that trail off into the earth.”
I invite you to visit the chapel and take a look at the fantastic details of the building itself, the stunning coast line drive to get up there, and a few pictures of the Sea Ranch Community in the video below.
For me it is a work of art and definitely a Little Bit of Beauty™!
What do you think it looks like? I invite you to leave your impressions in the comment section below.