William Turnbull - Buildings in the Landscape
by Donlyn Lyndon
We ended up on the rugged north coast of California, on an overgrazed sheep meadow, hard by the surf breaking at the foot of the rocky cliffs. The ground was not flat but shaped into low mounds and swells, edged on one side by the ribbon of Highway 1 and indented on the other by ocean forces seeking weak points in the rock.
William Turnbull, Jr.,
speaking about Sea Ranch Condominium I
William Turnbull's buildings belong, always, to the places of which they are a part. Each was conceived in its particular site.
As they grew in his mind and emerged from his hand, they were shaped by his persistent attention, stroked and disciplined with a firm understanding of the acts of a construction, gently tutored in the accommodation of human response, and held to high standards of excellence.
There is something distinctly aristocratic about Bill's buildings, especially the houses; they are confident and refined. Yet he would have insisted that they grew from his instincts as a farmer.
This is not contradictory. Both stewarding farmlands and cultivating architecture depend on intense and knowing care. Turnbull knew about both.
This article is excerpted from "William Turnbull, Jr.: Buildings in the Landscape" edited by William Stout and Dung Ngo, with permission of the publisher, William Stout Publishers, Inc.
On a former sheep ranch on the Pacific coast 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of San Francisco, Sea Ranch provides a dramatic site for a carefully planned development.
Image: William Turnbull, Jr./MLTW
Hills to the east of Highway 1 are covered with redwood and Bishop pine. Seaward of the road, the grassy slopes end abruptly in rugged cliffs pounded by waves.
Photo: Morley Baer
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