Page T2.1 . 29 August 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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    Chief at Sea Ranch

    by B.J. Novitski

    On the rugged Northern California coast stands a unique, decades-old development called Sea Ranch. Buildings there have always been designed according to strict design guidelines that keep development clustered and rooflines compatible with the wind-swept bluffs.

    Architects who continue the Sea Ranch creative tradition accept these restrictions. One of them, Michael Wike, AIA, has learned to make his CAD software of choice, Chief Architect, from ART, Inc., adapt to his design style.

    Educated at the University of California at Berkeley, with professors who included some of the original Sea Ranch designers, Wike began his own custom residential design practice 20 years ago. He started using AutoCAD for drafting in 1989 but didn't use software for design until he discovered Chief Architect in 1997.

    Within Chief Architect, Wike sets as defaults some key Sea Ranch design characteristics, like roof pitch and overhang length. And he uses the flexible modeling interface to mold his houses to the sloped and rocky terrain.

    "Chief," as the software is known among users, is a low-cost alternative to market leading architectural CAD software, intended primarily for the residential and light commercial market.

    A View Down the Coast

    Wike is most enthusiastic about the way the software allows him to design interactively with his clients. He recently completed a remodel and addition to an older Sea Ranch house (designed by Wagstaff & McDonald in 1968, using traditional media) for clients who understood that their prime asset was their view down the coastline.

    "During a design meeting at their house," recalls Wike, "they expressed concerns about the railings of the proposed deck blocking their existing views. So I suggested we check the views right then on my computer."



    ArchWeek Image

    With Chief Architect, Michael Wike, AIA models houses at Sea Ranch, California along wind-blown bluffs.
    Image: Michael Wike, AIA

    ArchWeek Image

    While designing a house remodel, Wike showed his clients views of and from the proposed addition.
    Image: Michael Wike, AIA


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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