Spring 2024 – Newsletter

Spring heatwave, feels like summer, actual summer, not a San Francisco summer. While we love eating out on the patio at the office and spending long days at the Ranch, there is something disconcerting about all this heat. Wildfire season is now year-round. Clearlake is not so clear with an early algae bloom.

National Park Service describes our new normal, our shifting baseline as “a gradual change in our accepted norms and expectations for the environment across generations. Our tolerance for environmental degradation increases and our expectations for the natural world are lowered.”

Corey Squire’s new book People Planet Design asks us to envision a world of better. There are 3 million architects worldwide, on a planet of billions. As architects, that is a lot of influence on the built environment. Let’s live well in our place and make something better.

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[Photo 1: This is not a Georgia O’Keefe but the Clearlake algae bloom from space. Nature, even in degradation, can inspire, but we need not settle for degradation.]



Red Dot Ranch is growing. We are both a ranch and a non-profit foundation with a soft launch of our website This is a long newsletter and will be our last shared one. Red Dot Studio will continue to have quarterly newsletters. Red Dot Ranch will have more frequent monthly newsletters. Click below to update your newsletter preferences. Of course you can subscribe to both! Manage your preferences here.

[Photo 2: Patio Lunch]

Bittersweet goodbye lunch for Nicole Levy who left Red Dot Studio for a year of travel.

[Photo 3: Guest Chef]

Mark Curtiss was guest chef for our friends at the Santa Cruz Permaculture Farm for their Strawberry Festival. Successful day for their farm and while everyone loved the strawberry scone shortcake, the quinoa bowl and kiwi lime pie were sleeper hits!

[Photo 4: Client Move In]

Truly an honor to work on this forever home in Twin Peaks with Townsend Brown Engineer, Oakleaf Construction, FQ Design, Tucci Lighting and ORCA Landscape.

[Photo 5: Home Tour]

We are so excited to be chosen for the AIA Silicon Valley Home Tour on September 14 for this jewel box in Redwood City. Tickets are not yet on sale but will be soon at this link.

[Photo 6: Straw Bale SIPS Panel]

Anthony Dente from Verdant Engineers is known for his expertise in natural building techniques. Traditional straw bales walls are 18-24” thick, which limits their application in high density settings. He formed a company called Verdant Panels to engineer a structurally insulated panel (SIPS) filled with straw, a carbon sink. Typical SIPS panels have high embodied carbon and are filled with EPS or XPS Foam made from petrochemicals. SIPS Panels are a familiar building technique for many contractors and at 6-8” thick the Verdant Panel can be used as component on a much wider range of projects than traditional straw bale. We are using it at an ADU in Nicasio.

[Photo 7: Access Institute]

Christine Lin from Form + Field was an early supporter of Red Dot Ranch and held a company retreat there last year. She is also the Board Chair at Access Institute, a non-profit offering low and no-fee psychological services for people who are otherwise not able to access mental health services. Working with Form + Field we jointly sponsored a ranch experience for Access Institute’s Annual Auction fundraiser. The day at the Ranch sparked a bidding frenzy and was one of the highest earning live auction items.

[Photo 8: SF Climate Week]

Walking tour of Treat Street Past Present and Future in collaboration with Livable City, Elizabeth Kreely Historian for Treat St, Patricia Algara of Base Landscape Architecture and Kieran Farr of Sierra Club. The Mission District was once a wetland and the walking tour explored what happened to all that water and how we can bring some habitat back. The small triangle of Treat St adjacent to Dandelion Chocolate is about to have a sewer replacement. Instead of pavement let’s make a park.

[Photo 9: Youth Interns]

We recently said goodbye to our high school intern Jake, seen here creating a pneumatic form model out of a biobag for a prototype housing design for Build Back Green in Lahaina, HI. Before Jake we had Eva, a gap year graduate from SOTA’s high school architecture program who worked on design services for Slide Ranch. Later this month an Enterprise for Youth intern, Leila, will join us. Call us crazy but we like to encourage aspiring youth architects to pursue the field.

[Photo 10: SF Design Week]

Video of Karen Curtiss speaking on themes of Birth Life and Death and how natural systems affect our architecture practice at a Creative Mornings event sponsored by the Archery. Want to hear more on this topic? Check out the Retreat in the Calendar section below.


[Photo 11: Farm Dinners]

Seasonal Farm Dinners Outside at the Ranch are back and to use a cliché better than ever. We have a lot more growing on property now and can’t wait to share it with you. You will be nourished with a 5-course vegetable-forward seasonal menu while watching the golden hour over the Pacific. We will provide a non-alcoholic drink pairing. BYO.

4:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Early Summer: July 6
> Buy tickets here
Late Summer: August 17
> Buy tickets here
Autumn Harvest: October 19
> Buy tickets here

[Photo 12 by argus curtiss: Taste the Season]

: Gather, harvest, cook and eat a family-style lunch together at the Ranch. Mark Curtiss will be your guide both in the field and at the table, teaching how to harvest and cook. Participants will then enjoy lunch together with techniques and know how to take home.

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Summer: July 27
> Buy tickets here
Autumn Harvest: Nov 2
> Buy tickets here

[Photo 13: Ranch Retreat Aug 31 – Sept 2]

Labor Day Weekend we are thinking of doing a big fundraiser at Red Dot Ranch, a 3-day overnight glamping retreat on the themes of Birth Life and Death geared towards creatives and makers for 20 people including 4 scholarship spots. We have experts lined up to inspire you. We don’t slouch on food and meals are all inclusive. We are thinking of charging $3,000 for double occupancy tent or $3,500 for single, half covers expenses and half is a fundraiser. What do you think? Drop us a line at if you are interested or have feedback on this idea.

[Photo 14: Private Retreat]

Want to book a bespoke private ranch retreat? Drop us a line at

At the Bioneers Conference ab banks had the audience chant “Free the Land. Free the People.”
At the time RDR had been thinking about selling garden plots. This made us realize that the land was not for sale and that we could do so much more.
Instead we are offering space and letting our community grow. If you are interested answer the two questions below and send your application to We will acknowledge all applications via email. Interviews and discussion will follow for select applicants.
1. What would you like to do at Red Dot Ranch? Explain project mission and vision, as well as parameters such as land use, duration and what if any support you need to do the project.
2. What will you contribute to the Red Dot Ranch community? Please provide examples of past experiences where you successfully collaborated with others towards a common goal, and how you believe this experience will benefit the Red Dot Ranch community.
If a formal program isn’t your thing but you want to help and get your hands dirty occasionally, we are always looking for volunteers. Drop us a line at

We genuinely like people and the planet.

Red Dot Studio is an architecture firm that believes when you listen, watch, and learn the making comes naturally.

Red Dot Ranch is a regenerative farm to learn our place in nature through food and shelter. Red Dot Ranch creates nourishing food systems and grows the practice of architecture through outreach and education so we can learn how to live, gather, build and grow well in our place.

The Studio and Ranch are located on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone. We understand the inherent inconsistency in celebrating and learning our place in nature while pretending to own land which can never be truly owned and is part of us. We wish to recognize Indigenous knowledge and pay our respect to the Ancestors and Community of the Ohlone and to affirm their sovereign rights as First Peoples.

Livable City
Creative Mornings
Architecture + City Festival Submissions Open