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NOCA MODERN Architect Detail

Body of Work:
Ernest and Esther Born House

(b. 1898 – d. 1992) Ernest Born was an eminent multi-talented architect, artist and a professor of architecture who influenced future generations of architects. He was also a respected member of the San Francisco Art Commission 1947-50, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), director of the San Francisco Planning and Housing Association (now SPUR) in 1945, and the San Francisco Art Association from 1947-1950.

A native San Franciscan, Ernest Born studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley under John Galen Howard and graduated in 1922 with a B.A. and a year later earned his master’s with a thesis on the relation of painting to architecture. While he worked for prominent San Francisco architects such as John Reid Jr., John Galen Howard and George Kelham between 1923 and 1928, he also travelled extensively in Europe and attended the American Beaux-Arts School at Fontainebleau in 1928. He and his wife, architect Esther Baum Born whom he had met at the University of California, settled in 1928 in New York where he worked for well-known architectural firms such as Gehron & Ross among others. In 1931 he opened his own architectural practice working on a wide variety of projects ranging from designing commercial spaces and exhibitions to architectural advertising, and served on the editorial staff of Architectural Record from 1933-34 and Architectural Forum from 1935-36.

Upon his return to San Francisco in 1937 Born opened his own architectural practice with the design of two faculty residences at Stanford University and an innovative low-income housing complex North Beach Place in collaboration with architect Henry H. Gutterson among other residential, commercial and industrial projects. His mural paintings for the Golden Gate International Exposition established his reputation as an artist and his drawings for a proposed United Nations Center, with William W. Wurster and Theodore Bernardi, were exhibited in museums in San Francisco and New York. During the war years, Born worked with architect Gardner Dailey in Brazil and in the US on special military projects.

The Born architectural office was closed in 1973 and Ernest and Esther Born later moved to San Diego where they lived in their retirement near their daughter and her family. Ernest Born died in 1992 at the age of 94 and his life and work was honored in many obituaries.

Major Publications by Born:
Bolles, John and Ernest Born, A Plan for Fisherman’s Wharf comprising the Fisherman’s Wharf-Aquatic Park Area. Prepared for the San Francisco Port Authority. San Francisco, 1961.

Horn, Walter and Ernest Born, The Barns of Beaulieu and its Granges of Great Coxwell & Beaulieu-St. Leonards, Berkeley, University Press, 1965.

Born, Ernest, Notes on Recent Subway Design in Hamburg, Stockholm, London. Washington, National Capital Transportation Agency, 1965.

Horn, Walter and Ernest Born, The Plan of St. Gall: A Study of Architecture and Economy of & Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery. 3 Volumes, Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1979.

Publications about Born and his work:
“AIA Exhibit of Architecture,” Ernest Born architect, photographs by Esther Born, Architectural Forum, 1938, V. 69, pp. 468–69.

“Architecture around the San Francisco Bay, 1941.” Architect and Engineer, June 1941, V.145, p. 16-55. (Ernest Born and Harvey Parke Clark had organized the exhibit and Born had designed it.)

Bolles, John S., “North Beach Place Housing Project – San Francisco, Gutterson, Henry H. and Ernest Born, architects,” Architect and Engineer, July 1945, p.13-16.

A United Nations Center for San Francisco. Arts and Architecture, June 1945, V.62, p.36-38 ill.

“Milestones ’23 Ernest Born”, CED News, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley, Fall 1992, V.11, No.1, p.41.

“In Memory” of Ernest Born, Newsletter of American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter. October 1992.

“Ernest Born, 1898-1992,” California Monthly, December 1992, p. 46.

Archives ( Ernest and Esther Born Collection at the Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

Horn, Walter and Ernest Born, Collection of Production Materials for the Plan of St. Gall, Manuscripts Division, Special Collections, Libraries, Stanford University.

Photos credit: San Francisco Public Library



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