Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Sea Ranch Chapel - A Successful Use of Curves

A visit out to the coast this weekend found me, my youngest son and a couple friends stopping by the Sea Ranch Chapel.  Over the years it has been fun to stop in at this place to marvel at the craftsmanship and see how the place is holding up.  All things considered it remains in remarkably good shape for such a unique structure, situated as it is only a few hundred yards off of highway 1 and a few hundred yards from the bluff.  Sculptor James Hubbell's design is commonly considered a successful collaboration between himself and craftsman Thamby Kumaran.  

One of the things that is most remarkable about this building is the way in which the organic curves of the building are accomplished so successfully and so smoothly.  So often, when architecture attempts to create an organic curve it is a lonely solo amongst a chorus of otherwise straight geometry.  This is usually all the budget can stomach.  Also, there is inevitably a "kink" or a "wobble" in the solitary geometry that calls the grace of the building (and its organic underpinnings) into question.  Curves are just hard to do convincingly and this building jumps in head first and reminds us that the flaws of a unified and riotous scheme are more easily obscured than when things are done in a timid or tentative manner.  A real place of beauty.

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