Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

The Bay Area's Newest Artists' Retreat

Photo by Paul Dyer

Photo by Paul Dyer

High in the Santa Cruz Mountains, above a former cattle ranch in Woodside, four modular cabins stand on the edge of the Pacific, appearing to have been dropped onto the coastline by intergalactic architects. Designed, in fact, by Bay Area “starchitect” Cass Calder Smith, the 280-square-foot jewel boxes were commissioned as month-long incubators for the writers, poets, composers, and playwrights of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

First conceived in 1979 by Carl Djerassi and later evolved into a full-fledged artist community, Djerassi unveiled the new units, erected this past September, in commemoration of its founder’s late wife, Diane Middlebrook (herself an accomplished biographer, poet, and professor). Smith drew on his bohemian upbringing and modern, urban sensibility to construct eco-friendly residences that would be conducive to the creative process. Beneath a single steel canopy, the solar-powered buildings are staggered to give disorder to the rigidity of the design and are clad in unfinished cedar that will naturally weather over time. The first writers, including Kate Moses, author of Wintering and Cakewalk, will settle in this spring.

This article was published in 7x7's April issue. Click here to subscribe.