The 15-plus acre estate in Rancho Santa Fe isn’t some rambling swath of luxury. There’s a serenity that unfolds throughout. A fluidity with nature blurs the line between landscape and house. It’s artfully simple. Breathtakingly functional. And it’s hallmark Ken Ronchetti.
As much as the architect himself stays decidedly behind the scenes, his designs inevitably find the spotlight. Earlier this year, Bill and Melinda Gates purchased one of his homes in Del Mar for more than $40 million. And his “Farm Compound,” a rarified 15.65-acre refuge in Rancho Santa Fe’s covenant, is now on the market for $15.9 million.
The compound was commissioned in the 1980s by Ernest Hahn, Sr., a pioneer of the modern shopping mall. It was since sold and updated but the new owners maintained the clean-line aesthetic and sublime Palos Verdes stone while further celebrating indoor-outdoor living.
There’s a regulation tennis court, a detached 900-square-foot spa and fitness pavilion, an office with an attached apartment, a two-bedroom guest house, and an enviable six-stall barn with verdant pastures. There’s also an award-winning agricultural building.
It’s no accident that Ronchetti innovated home design for the innovators. For three decades, he was commissioned by titans of industry who shaped their respective fields. Oracle founder Larry Ellison tapped Ronchetti for his curvaceous La Jolla home; the Potiker family asked him to conceive a bluffside stunner in La Jolla Farms.
“Ken Ronchetti is known to be incredibly discreet about his client list and we respect his integrity,” says realtor Laura Barry of Barry Estates, who has the listing for the farm compound. “His uniquely timeless design elements capture the essence of California living.” Adds one Ronchetti private client, “He uses techniques that stimulate the senses and subtly command your attention.”
Born in Chicago, Ronchetti earned his stripes as a tradesman working alongside his father, a builder of metropolitan high-rises. Later, he was an industrial designer for Caterpillar Tractor, which became a powerful underpinning of his design. He opened his eponymous firm here in the 1970s. At the time, he was very much smitten with Mexico’s expression of organic architecture and exploring topography: “A simple and beautiful harmony, incorporating architecture with the existing lay of the land.”
His philosophy, like Coco Chanel and the Japanese, is subtractive. “In design, many things are at your disposal, but it’s as much about what is left out as what is left in, choosing the fewest number of parts to say and do the most,” says Ronchetti, whose own North County home and studio is open and expressive.
For details on the “Farm Compound” listing in Rancho Santa Fe, contact Laura Barry and Jim Graves of Barry Estates. 858.756.2266, laurabarryluxuryestates.com