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NOCA MODERN Architect Detail


Body of Work:
Maynard Buehler House
V.C. Morris Gift Shop
Hanna House

Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most well known architect and designer of almost 500 completed buildings, worked over a period of fifty years on projects in California. Of more than fifty designs, twenty five where built, ten of them in Northern California. All of these were mid-century designs, dating from 1940, during what some have termed Wright’s “second career.” The majority of the Northern California projects are small to moderate sized “Usonian” houses, reflecting a theme that was to occupy much of the architect’s energies during this period. An anti-urbanist, Wright advocated for the dispersal of the Country’s population, proposing an automobile-based semi-rural settlement pattern, he called Broadacre City, originally publicized in 1934. The essential element in this strategy was the Usonian house, a small dwelling of moderate cost intended for the middle class family. Seven of Wright’s ten Northern California buildings are Usonian houses. One of these, the 1940 Bazett House, in Hillsborough, south of San Francisco was for two years home to the Joseph Eichler family and provided a catalyst for Eichler’s career as the now-famous suburban builder-developer of the Eichler Homes, which owe much to Wright’s design principles. Wright’s only San Francisco building, arguably one of his best, the 1949 V.C. Morris Gift Shop, at 140 Maiden Lane, is acknowledged as one of the gems of twentieth- century American architecture. His Bay Area houses remain private homes, inaccessible to the general public, with the exception of the Hanna House, owned and maintained by Stanford University. This house is open regularly for tours. Also accessible to visitors is the Marin County Civic Center, completed by San Francisco-based architect and Taliesin Fellow, Aaron Green, in collaboration with the Taliesin Office, in 1972. The other public building in Northern California is the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Redding, completed in 1963.

Sources:
Romanza: The California Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, David Gebhard, Chronicle books, 1988.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses: Designs for Moderate Cost One-Family Homes, John Sergeant, Whitney Library of Design, 1984.

Body of Work:
V.C. Morris Gift Shop, 140 maiden Lane, San Francisco; Marin County Civic Center; numerous private houses.

Photo: Ralph Crane

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DOCOMOMO US/Northern California

P.O. Box 29226
San Francisco, CA 94129-0226

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