Harry Gesner’s Malibu Sandcastle Hits the Market for $27.5 Million

'I grew up with a vast appreciation for the environment and the ocean,' the architect's son explained.

The one-of-a-kind Malibu home of architect Harry Gesner has been listed for $27.5 million. Overlooking 122 feet of beachfront, Gesner named the cylindrical residence “Sandcastle” when he built it for his family in the early 1970s. Following the architect’s death last year, the home is now on the market.

A circular living room with 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean.
‘Growing up there was a bit Swiss Family Robinson but in Middle Earth.’ MIKE HELFRICH

Zen Gesner, who is not only a son of the architect but, with Chris Cortazzo at Compass, is also one of the listing agents said his father designed Sandcastle to inspire creativity. The architecture and design are distinctive, incorporating salvaged telephone poles, maple from a local high school gym, redwood harvested in the 19th century, and windows and doors from a silent theater in Hollywood.

“The use of reclaimed materials in 99% of the construction brings a warmth and soul that is something that you can feel in every part of the property,” Zen said. “Every room has a special character and the house brings a unique sense of peace.”

The 3,000-square-foot house sits on approximately 0.73 acres, offering waterfront views from a wraparound deck and direct access to the ocean. The residence becomes one with its natural surroundings. “The house was built to fit into the landscape organically, as if it had always been there, like the Monterey Pines that surround it,” Zen said.

The exterior of a modern, sandcastle-shaped home on the beach.
The home has only ever been owned by the Gesner family. MIKE HELFRICH

Off the entry is a library and sitting area with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and that all-important view of the ocean. The heart of the home is a window-lined space with a large brick fireplace under a wood-plank ceiling with spoke-like beams. The fireplace was inspired by the Hollywood Bowl, and the polished concrete hearth doubled as a stage for Gesner’s wife, the actress Nan Martin.

The main space includes a dining area and solarium touting stained glass panels and ocean views. The kitchen ties thematically into the house’s shape, wrapping a circular island with tile counters. Stained glass lunettes accent the beams overhead. A pair of bedrooms round out the main floor. Both bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, and one has built-ins—making it a logical choice for an office. 

A circular beachfront home, surrounded by green trees and blue ocean views.
‘Sandcastle’ was built to fit into the Malibu landscape organically. MIKE HELFRICH

On the second floor, the primary suite has high ceilings accentuated by large beams, eyebrow windows, its own brick fireplace, and what the listing calls “an ocean-view sitting area.” A spiral staircase with handmade driftwood treads lead to a space that could serve as a studio, loft, or meditation space. 

Apart from the main structure is an “ocean-view tree house” apartment that contains a kitchenette, living room and dining area, bedroom, bath, and wraparound deck. There is also a boathouse with a full kitchen, a living and dining area with an ocean view, and an indoor/outdoor cabana. 

It all comes together to create a distinctive, one-of-a-kind home with the promise of unique experiences. “I grew up with a vast appreciation for the environment and the ocean,” Zen said. “Weekends and summers were usually spent surfing, diving, fishing, exploring the tide pools, and sleeping by bonfires on the beach in front of Sandcastle. It was magical, and I never took it for granted.”

The home has only ever been owned by the Gesner family. “Growing up there was a bit of Swiss Family Robinson but in Middle Earth,” Zen said. “Like living in a total fantasy world.”

The interior of a home, with ocean views, a fireplace, a chandelier, and a spiral staircase.
An eye-catching spiral staircase made of driftwood treads. MIKE HELFRICH
A rustic beach kitchen with whitewashed wood details.
The kitchen also plays with circular lines. MIKE HELFRICH
A vibrant green lawn shaded by wide trees. Lawn furniture looks out to expansive ocean views.
Picturesque Malibu living. MIKE HELFRICH

Harry Gesner’s Malibu Sandcastle Hits the Market for $27.5 Million