Landscape has always had a significant influence on homes throughout the West. In the 1960s and '70s, second-home developments like Sea Ranch in Northern California and Salishan in Oregon were built to harmonize with their geography and local architectural styles, giving residents a deeper connection to the environment.
New vacation communities carry on the tradition by imbuing their designs with a strong sense of place. Here are two especially vivid examples.
Zocalo in New Mexico
In Santa Fe, where the rounded pueblo style of earth-toned stucco architecture dominates, the bright colors of the Zocalo development stand out. A condominium project on the northwest edge of town, it was designed by Ricardo Legorreta, one of Mexico's most famous modern architects.
Design: The development follows a wide piñon pine–studded arroyo and is organized around a series of plazas and courtyards on 46½ acres (in Mexico, a town square is called a zocalo). Strong geometric shapes in brilliant red, orange, and pink stucco were inspired by a piece of red sandstone found on the site.
Atmosphere: The goal was to create a neighborhood with a strong identity that still would feel at home in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The result is a colorful new twist on Santa Fe style. A clubhouse and nature trails along the arroyo are the center of recreation activities.
Price: Three of the five planned phases have been completed; ultimately there will be about 300 residences. In Phase IV, now under construction, a typical two-bedroom, two-bath unit has an entry courtyard and a covered patio off the living room at the rear. Prices range from $320,000 for 1,108 square feet to $435,000 for 1,467 square feet.
Info: www.zocalosantafe.com or 505/986-0667
A beach village that eventually will number about 1,000 homes is taking shape on 350 acres between the forest and the sea on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, a 2½-hour drive southwest of Seattle. Seabrook is the brainchild of developer Casey Roloff.
Design: Roloff wanted to build a community that recalled the seaside enclaves where he vacationed as a child. He was also inspired by the plan of Seaside, Florida, which launched the New Urbanist movement of pedestrian-friendly community design more than 20 years ago. At Seabrook, the mostly shingle or clapboard two-story houses have generous front porches and evoke rural Northwest architecture of the early 20th century.
Price: A two-bedroom, two-bath, 770-square-foot cottage starts at $399,000; a three-bedroom, three-bath, 1,575-square-foot house is $599,000. Some houses can be rented.
Info: www.seabrookwa.com or 360/276-0099