A Tent on the Beach
by Bill Staggs
Residential architect and teacher Marcel Sedletzky was born in Russia but lived most of his professional life in Monterey, California. His style was a blend of high modernism, like that of Marcel Breuer, with the organic fusion of form and site of Frank Lloyd Wright. Sedletzky's houses embody his passion for drama, and his collaborations with his clients were often dramatic as well. — Editor
Sea Cliff Beach in Aptos, California, just south of the city of Santa Cruz, hugs a straight stretch of shoreline backed by a towering cliff. Access to the private community and its single row of 26 houses lies behind the guard gate of a popular state beach park, down a winding road to the shore, and north past a line of picnic sites and recreational vehicles parked just yards from the sand.
It was here that San Francisco physician Alexander Gansa and his first wife, Marie, commissioned Marcel Sedletzky to design a house for them in 1966. More than 35 years after their initial meeting, Dr. Gansa recalls that working with Sedletzky was "an adventure," with glorious moments of design revelation, as well as frequent, intense clashes over design matters both small and large.
"Marcel was very intense and very precise," Gansa says. "He was always very clear about his ideas and committed to them. He was a very fit man, too, which was somewhat unusual for the 1960s, and that somehow made him even more intense. There's no doubt his ideas were wonderful, like the desire to have the house look and feel like a tent, a house that would blend in, that would seem to sit on the sand." >>>
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This article is excerpted from Marcel Sedletzky: Architect and Teacher by Bill Staggs, with permission of the publisher, Wild Coast Press, (Marcel Sedletzky Archive, Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz).
The Gansa House in Aptos, California, designed by residential architect Marcel Sedletzky.
Photo: Marcel Sedletzky Archive, Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz
Sedletzky designed the parametric ceiling as an optical illusion to give the impression of curved materials.
Photo: Donna Kempner
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