Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bernard Maybeck

Bernard Maybeck was born in New York City in 1862.  He was the son of German immigrants and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  The majority of his professional work is found in the San Francisco Bay Area where he was a professor of drawing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Maybeck is best known for his involvement with the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early Twentieth Century, and his role as a mentor to a number of high-profile architects, including Julia Morgan, another Bay Area notable.  His personal architectural style is considered an eclectic mix of several Bay Area building trends, including Spanish Mission, Gothic Revival, and Japanese influences.  He also favored native woods, generally untreated, large windows, and integrating the building within the local environment.

His best known work is the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley, which is the only building in Berkeley that is considered a National Historic Landmark.  He also designed a number of buildings on the UC Berkeley Campus, homes for wealthy Berkeley residents, and the Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco, which was originally built for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 and is the only remaining structure from that event.

I find it difficult to separate Maybeck's work from the Bay Area.  Some of his buildings, including the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkley and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, are deeply tied into my vision of what I like about Bay Area architecture.  I've been known to go out of my way on the trip to work and visit the First Church of Christ, Scientist just to check in and make sure the building is still unbelievably gorgeous.

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