Dahlgren House

108 Odessa

Charles Warren

Dahlgren House

Project Description

The Architecture of this house weaves together the themes of a seaside villa from antiquity with more recent, local traditions of wood construction.  Like the Roman villa of Pliny the younger, the house is a gentle mediation between man and nature.  It is arranged around specific orientations to the sun, the sea, and the winds.

Both movement and ornament are orchestrated to lead upward from the simple cubic entry, through ever more explicitly classical episodes, to the Tuscan columned pavilion at the top. From this vantage point there are views across the dunes to the west, down the street to the south,  and eastward to the town center of Seaside. 

The room proportions are based on the ratios of the golden section - each room, both indoors and out, forms part of the sequence of unfolding proportion.  The architectural ornament is generated from an idealization of the building's actual construction. The beams, rafters, and purlins of the ceilings describe a framed structure both metaphorical and real,  details such as the recessed stair rail and the larger scale siding emphasize the density of the lower walls. Color also plays a role in emphasizing tectonic distinctions.  The decoration of the rooms interprets the themes of the architecture, re-emphasizing in a more fanciful way the themes of sun, sea,  and winds.

By Charles Warren


This house has a distinct character that sets it apart from your typical Seaside house. Its rustic red color stands out from the adjacent lighter houses. Furthermore, its Pompeian detailing, polychrome of elements and the detailing of the structural elements, is unique among Seaside’s other buildings.

There is also a clear functional logic to this house. The large windows, open loggias, and tower allow for great light, views, and natural ventilation. The forms that compose the house are playful, but respect a certain inherent uniformity. Overall, this house fits Seaside well while adding to its eclecticism.

By Carl Silliman

Project Specifications

Charles Warren
Building Name:
Dahlgren House
Preferred Name:
Dahlgren House
108 Odessa
Code Type:
Type VII – Residential
Building Type:


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
  • Plan
  • Isometric
  • 4, Exterior View
  • 1, Interior View
  • Sketches

Exterior View

Interior View


Plan 9108 ESTO Ext02 9108 ESTO Int01 9108 ESTO Ext02