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Seawell House

309 Ruskin Place

Charles Warren

309 Ruskin Place

Project Description

This is a classical house built with traditional methods.  It relies on a clear, simple ordering system and a careful adjustment of timeless principles to the particularities of its site.  Interwoven with the composition of mass and space is an equally important sequence that emphasizes movement and the relationship of the inhabitants to natural light and views both near and distant.  Both schemes of massing and of movement are arranged about the most explicitly classical elements: the ground floor entrance pavilion and the roof loggia.  It is here that the sequence of movement begins and ends and here where the masses of the composition attain balance. 

By Charles Warren

Located in the calm environment of Ruskin Square, Seawell House (Home Alone) is a mixed-use residence with a small gallery/shop located on the ground floor. With separate and non-disturbing entrances, the house consists of four levels: A shop on the ground level, a kitchen and living room on the second level, two bedrooms on the third level, and a rooftop terrace. The stairway in the interior of the house is located right in the middle, and serves the purpose of a vent, letting heat rise all the way up and out onto the roof terrace.

Even though it is a mere 800 square feet per floor, Home Alone feels big and spacious, as framed openings, balconies, and large windows are predominant in its design. Made of a steel frame and reinforced concrete in order to prevent serious damage from storms, Home Alone has a Mediterranean feel to it. With simple, cool colors and minimal ornamentation, except for its blue wrought-iron details, the characteristic that stands out is the stairway to the roof terrace, Charles Warren’s signature detail, as can be seen in his other works in Seaside. The stairway to the roof terrace adds unexpected movement and ornament to the northern façade of the house. The flat roof of the house lends itself as a space for entertainment, with a tower structure in the center, and gorgeous unobstructed views of Seaside.

By Sylvana Gomez Mendoza

Project Specifications

Charles Warren
Building Name:
Seawell House
Preferred Name:
Seawell House, Home Alone
309 Ruskin Place
Code Type:
Type IV – Residential and Lodging


Charles Warren

Charles Warren


Charles Warren has been a practicing architect and an author for more than thirty years. He studied fine arts as an undergraduate at the California Institute of the Arts and at Skidmore College. He then received his Master’s Degree in Architecture in 1980 from Columbia University. He worked as an Associate in the firm of Robert A.M. Stern for nearly a decade before starting his own firm, Charles Warren Architect.

In 1987 Warren entered the academic arena once again when he was awarded the Muschenheim Fellowship at the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning. While teaching design and architectural theory as an associate professor at the University of Michigan, he met Robert Davis, the founder of Seaside.  A year later, Davis invited him to come to Seaside and become its seventh Town Architect in 1990.

While serving as Town Architect of Seaside, Warren designed a new Post Office (unbuilt), a complex of utility buildings, an open air shop along the beach, and a new swimming pool enclosure. He also began work on three houses for private clients. Later, he designed the structures and landscape of Natchez Park. After leaving his post as Town Architect of Seaside, Warren returned to his own firm in Manhattan. He stayed connected to Seaside through his career though, as his projects there progressed from design and approval to construction and completion.

  Today Charles Warren’s firm works in a wide variety of locations across the United States. They design residential and commercial architecture and specialize in buildings done in unique and challenging locations and situations: historic districts, planned communities and environmentally sensitive areas. Their work has been published in books and magazines in both the United States and Europe. In addition to being a practicing architect, Charles Warren is also a teacher and an author. He has taught at the University of Michigan; the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C.; and the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art.  In addition to books and articles on urbanism and architecture, Warren is the author of the new introduction to John Nolen’s 1927 classic New Towns for Old and has recently co-authored a monograph on the work of Carrère & Hastings. 

Archive Inventory

Seaside Archives, University of Notre Dame
  • Elevation
  • Plan
  • Exterior Views
  • Sketches
  • Interior Views


Exterior Views

Interior Views


Sketches student watercolor scan035