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Palace of Fine Arts
Bernard Ralph Maybeck (February 7, 1862 – October 3, 1957) was a prominent architect in the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th Century.
Early life and education
Maybeck was born in New York City and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. He moved to Berkeley, California in 1894. He became the first professor of architecture at University of California, Berkeley and acted as a mentor for an entire generation of other California architects, including Julia Morgan and William Wurster. In 1951 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects.
Maybeck was a stylistic chameleon, equally comfortable producing work in mission style, church-gothic, and Beaux-Art classicism, believing that each architectural problem required development of an entirely new solution. Many of his buildings still stand in his long-time home city of Berkeley. The 1910 First Church of Christ, Scientist is designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of Maybeck's finest works. He also designed the domed Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. One of his most interesting office buildings is the home of the Family Service Agency of San Francisco, offices at 1010 Gough Street. This building, constructed in 1928, is on the city's historic building register and still serves as Family Service headquarters. Some of his larger residential projects, most notably a few in the hills of Berkeley, California (see esp. La Loma Park), have been compared to the ultimate bungalows of the architects Greene and Greene.
A lifetime fascination with drama and the theatre can be seen in much of Maybeck's work. In his spare time, he was known to create costumes, and also designed sets for the amateur productions at Berkeley's Hillside Club.
He also developed a comprehensive town plan for the company town of Brookings, Oregon.
He also developed the chalet used at the Bohemian Grove for the elite.
Maybeck is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.
BERNARD MAYBECK: CALIFORNIA ARCHITECT
by M. H. White and Profesor Charles Gilman Hyde
Finding opportunities limited
in Kansas City, Maybeck left for San Francisco, returning to Kansas City
late in October, 1890 to marry Annie White with whom he returned to
California to make his lifelong home. Eventually he found work in the office
of A. Page Brown, whose commissions included the California building at the
Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Maybeck supervised its construction and had an
opportunity to see the Fair's other buildings and its formal layout, which
[The University is a city that
is to be created—A City of Learning—in which there is to be no sordid or
inharmonious feature. There are to be no definite limitations of cost,
materials or style. All is to be left to the unfettered discretion of the
designer. He is asked to record his conception of an ideal home for a
university, assuming time and resources to be unlimited. He is to plan for
centuries to come. There will doubtless be developments of science in the
future that will impose new duties on the University, and require
alterations in the detailed arrangement of its buildings, but it is believed
to be possible to secure a comprehensive plan in harmony with the universal
principles of architectural art.
Except for his involvement with
the campus planning competition for the University of California, Maybeck
had no recorded experience in large-scale planning prior to the Canberra
competition for design of a Federal City for the Commonwealth of Australia.
He did influence the development of his own neighborhood in Berkeley with
recommendations for how houses should be fitted into the steep hillsides,
and in the 1906-07 bulletin of the neighborhood association, a dozen of his
illustrations show how this could best be done.
The Palace of Fine Arts
Among various indications of
the living art of Bernard Maybeck we find the three dozen cherished
residences in the Berkeley hills. His simple shingled design of the
Unitarian Church of Palo Alto has been celebrated for the mystical
atmosphere which he achieved. When the Unitarian Church of Berkeley was
forced to move from the University of California campus, he not only
recommmended the large site with a Bay view but gave a generous gift to make
its purchase possible.
Most honored now among his
achievements as a California architect is the Palace of Fine Arts in San
Francsico which houses the Exploratorium, a unique educational center which
features exhibits of science, art, and human perception.
The task of creating a Palace
of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to
the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his
innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme
a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving.
But this ruin was not to exist solely for itself to show "the mortality of
grandeur and the vanity of human wishes." Although it was meant to give
delight by its exterior beauty, its purpose was also to offer all visitors a
stimulating experience within doors.
Special thanks to www.harvardsquarelibrary.org
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