Thursday, September 24, 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright


Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center

 “We know that the good building is not the one that hurts the landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the County.”

— Frank Lloyd Wright


Marin County Civic Center one of the most unusual government buildings in America

     “We know that the good building is not the one that hurts the landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the County.”

— Frank Lloyd Wright


Sometimes called the “Martian Embassy” because of its futuristic appearance, the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, Calif., is one of the most unusual government buildings in America. Designed with a circular theme and rounded archways, the building’s central focus is on the 80-foot-diameter dome with a 172-foot gold spire. The design was used in the science-fiction movie “Gattaca” and provided inspiration for the “Star Wars” films.

     As fans of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, we explore his buildings whenever we can. We had just such an opportunity in the spring when the 20-acre park surrounding the building was especially colorful.

     Wright was 90 years old in 1957 when he got what was to be his last commission. He designed the building but died before it was built on what was once a dairy farm. As was his practice, he designed the building to fit the land. The inside of the building is filled with greenery in harmony with the rolling site.

     After Wright’s death, Aaron Green, one of his architectural associates, finished the building, breaking ground in 1960 and adding additions until 1976.

     The board of supervisors resisted building the center because they didn’t approve of Wright’s lifestyle. He had left his first wife and children to live with another woman, and he later divorced a second wife, which was considered immoral at the time. That the building is now on the National Register of Historical Places and considered an international tourist attraction would probably come as a surprise to the board.

     At 470,000 square feet, it is the largest building Wright designed. The four-story building is in two sections, one 900 feet long the other 600 feet. An arched glass roof covers the whole center of the building, giving light to the open center of the building. The walkways on the inside have doors leading to the offices. Open-air walkways outside of each floor have doors to the offices. Gutters over the building create a waterfall when it rains.

     The ceiling in the courtroom is very modern, and the room can be enlarged by removing panels. In the Hall of Justice wing, the rooms are circular. Although the sightlines are excellent, the acoustics are not as admirable as would be desired. Expansion joints have been added to the floors and banisters to allow some movement during earthquakes.

     As with many of Wright’s buildings, problems arose because he pushed the limits of the available materials and technology. The day the center opened it rained heavily, and the building is said to have leaked like a sieve. As technology advanced, problems eventually were solved, more or less, in Wright’s case. As someone once remarked, we have to take our geniuses as they come.





At 470,000 square feet, it is the largest building Wright designed.



The Center is impressive from any point of view

No comments:

Post a Comment