Nicasio is the place to be if you want a cool home on lots of land. The fact that many of the homes have the name "Ranch" in them hints at the style of architecture you'll find. Think of the vintage T.V. show Dallas, and you'll get the idea; the homes are grand and set on acreage. Many have horse stables and some even have separate quarters for staff. Two of Nicasio's most famous ranches are Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock Ranch, which are both owned and operated by George Lucas Ltd.
Skywalker Ranch is a huge complex accomplished through teamwork and collaboration between George Lucas, who was very involved in the design process, and architectural firms including BAR Architects of San Francisco, who handled much of the technical building, and TWM Architects, a San Rafael based firm that designed 13 of the buildings on the compound. Big Rock Ranch takes a page from early Frank Lloyd Wright with its prairie-style design and was designed by architect Kevin Hart of Gensler Architects. Hart now owns his own architectural firm in San Francisco.
Perhaps because of its agrarian roots, Nicasio was not a center for construction during the building boom of the 1950's and 1960's. Consequently there aren't many mid-century modern homes to be found. Most of the homes in Nicasio are custom built, such as an elegant Craftsman inspired home designed by Polsky Perlstein, a Larkspur based firm. Another interesting home in the area is a passive-solar, straw-bale home, designed by Sim Van der Ryn Architects. Talk about eco-friendly - this house even has a Madrone tree growing through the living room. Van der Ryn is cutting edge and well known for his environmentally responsible designs.
An alternative to a custom home would be a prefab home. These are gaining in popularity as they are somewhat less expensive to build and the process takes less time than a custom home. Many of the prefab designs are flexible enough to allow some modification, tailoring the home to fit the homeowner's needs. A number of prefab companies do business in Marin County and offer very sleek, modern designs.
Although the land in Nicasio is hilly, building spots can be found and a modern dream house can be created whether you design your own, hire an architect, or go for a smartly designed prefab home.
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