Second-home communities in New Mexico and Washington find inspiration in their settings

Dual-family retreat

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: or 505/986-0667

Washington’s Seabrook

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.

Atmosphere: Town planner Laurence Qamar organized Seabrook around extensive forest preserves, hiking trails, and parks where game areas and outdoor fireplaces bring people together for picnics and barbecues. Cars are stowed mostly out of sight in carriage houses on back alleys. “Bikes and flip-flops are the preferred means of transportation here,” Roloff says.

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: or 360/276-0099


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