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« Free Views -- Virginia Valdes | Main | Guest Posting -- Michael L. on the Mystique of the Artist »

January 17, 2003

Free Reads -- Apple on Maybeck

Friedrich --

The Times' R.W. Apple writes a good introduction to the work of the great, playful, mystical and zany west coast architect Bernard Maybeck. Maybeck was a wonderfully eccentric figure who lived into the 1950s, and built many beautiful San Francisco-area buildings, mixing styles from Arts and Crafts to NeoClassical to Meditearranean. Apple's piece is readable here.

Sample passage:

Maybeck's roots were in the Arts and Crafts movement. Along with a poet, publisher and aesthetic theorist named Charles Keeler, and others, he worked to turn the "seismically unstable and intellectually volatile Berkeley hills," as the architecture writer Allen Freeman described them, into an Arcadian garden landscape, dotted with rustic wooden houses. They were guided by Keeler's injunction to "let the work be simple and genuine, let it be a genuine expression of the life which it is to environ" a sentiment worthy of an American William Morris.

In the strait-laced Victorian era, their counter-cultural way of life must have seemed almost as far out as the present-day pageant of nonconformity on Telegraph Avenue, between Bancroft Way and Dwight Way, where hippies, punks, Rastafarians, Trotskyites and anarchists mingle with students.

And where does the Times run this piece? In the Architecture pages? Nope: in its Travel section.

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1915

Maybeck, by the way, is on the list of the architects I'm hoping to profile as examples of "the other modern architecture" -- great artists, builders and buildings from the 20th century that share very little with the official (ie., Modernism to Post-Modernism and beyond) story of recent architecture. Maybeck, like many others, is modern -- but not Modernist.



posted by Michael at January 17, 2003


In about 1961 our architecture class from Cal Poly went to San Francisco for a field trip.
One stop was at the Palace of Fine Arts, then in near collapse, but a beautiful ruin. The original construction was not intended to last, but it had remained through neglect, often the best method of preservation. I have not seen it since restoration except in photographs, but believe it was more memorable falling down than all remade from permanent materials.

Posted by: Charles Richards on January 21, 2003 12:26 PM

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