30 November 2012

Julia Morgan, Architect to Town and Gown

The Maybeck house in 1902 (Dimitri Shipounoff collection, BAHA archives)

At U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, women currently make up 57% of the undergraduates majoring in architecture, and about half of the graduate architecture students.

In the spring of 1894, when Julia Morgan (1872–1957) graduated from Cal with a degree in civil engineering, she was the only woman in her class. The university did not offer architecture courses at that time (the College of Architecture would not be founded until 1903, under John Galen Howard), and the only option open to engineering students who were interested in following an architectural career was to take an independent course in architectural design offered by Bernard Maybeck and held in his house.

Maybeck was selective. His design students were the crème de la crème and included an impressive array of future luminaries: Harvey Wiley Corbett (co-designer of New York’s Rockefeller Center); Edward H. Bennett (co-author of the Chicago city plan with Daniel H. Burnham); Lewis P. Hobart (architect of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and Bohemian Club); John Bakewell, Jr. and Arthur Brown, Jr. (who would collaborate on the city halls of San Francisco and Berkeley); G. Albert Lansburgh (designer of many theatres, including the Warfield and Golden Gate in San Francisco, the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and, with Arthur Brown, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House); and Loring P. Rixford (architect of the Sacramento City Library). Bakewell described the course as combining design theory and a period of practical application, during which the students worked on the additions to Maybeck’s house.

Continue reading this article here.

21 November 2012

Honoring Jane Powell

Jane Powell on a BAHA House Tour (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)

On 11 November 2012, Jane Elizabeth Powell of Oakland, California, passed away in her beloved Bunga-Mansion, surrounded by her loving caregivers, friends, and her sister Mary. Her three devoted cats Maya, Tasha, and Piper were there with her through this courageous battle, and it was amazing to see their close bond and how they were present for her every day.

Jane was born in Detroit, Michigan. The second of three strong sisters, she learned from her mother Peg to embrace her family, “adopted’ family, and many friends, and make each person feel special and well loved. Jane touched many people’s lives in a profound way and had an amazing group of loyal friends who were with her through this long journey. Her father Nelson taught Jane the power of laughter and love of bad puns. Thanks to her quick wit and ability to make puns about almost anything, she was labeled the “bad girl of bungalow writing.”

She was a restoration consultant, house restorer, lecturer, color consultant, and the author of six books that read as if she were talking to you in person. Her books titles are Bungalow Kitchens; Bungalow Bathrooms; Bungalow Details: Exterior; Bungalow Details: Interior; Bungalow: The Ultimate Arts and Crafts Home; and Linoleum.

Jane was a preservationist exraordinaire and a favorite BAHA lecturer. Never afraid to speak her mind, she will be remembered for her funny, smart, energetic, edifying, and highly opinionated talks.

As a hands-on restorer and perfectionist, she brought ten vintage houses back to life with help from family and friends. The practical experience of restoring houses armed her with the concrete knowledge that can only be gained by screwing up, and thus she was uniquely qualified to help her clients avoid many of the pitfalls that go along with restoring an older house. She left behind a vision for the restoration of her own home, the 1905 Jesse Matteson House, and her family is currently working on an offer from one of Jane’s former clients to buy the Bunga-Mansion and finish her restoration dream.

Jane is survived by her cats, Maya, Tasha, and Piper; her sisters, Nancy Klapak and Mary Enderle; her niece Karin Klapak and nephew Brian Klapak; and many interesting and loyal friends. A memorial service will be announced for some time in January 2013. Sympathy cards may be sent to Mary Enderle, 389 Photinia Lane, San Jose, CA 95127.

Ideas for honoring Jane’s legacy are offered on her website.

The Berkeley Daily Planet published Robert Brokl’s eulogy of Jane on 4 January 2013.

Your comments are invited below.

20 November 2012

Houses that Work, Houses that Grow: Learning from Julia Morgan

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2010

Lecture by Sandhya Sood, AIA

Tuesday, 18 December 2012
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
AIA San Francisco
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600
San Francisco

$10 general admission. Information & tickets

California’s first woman architect, Julia Morgan led a proficient practice in San Francisco for almost half a century from 1904 onwards, with over 700 buildings to her credit. She also designed many houses in the regional tradition of the San Francisco Bay Area that have endured a century of habitation, absorbing changing lifestyles and culture over the decades. Presenting slides of photographs and drawings that have rarely been seen or published, this lecture will evaluate Morgan’s successful house designs to examine their timeless qualities and spatial attributes that make them so livable, usable and sustainable over time.

This lecture is given in conjunction with Landmark California’s Julia Morgan 2012 celebration and is co-sponsored by the Center of Architecture and Design. Architectural historian Betty Marvin will make a special appearance as “Julia Morgan.”

05 November 2012

Karen McNeill lectures on Julia Morgan

8 November 2012
6:30 pm
Wurster Hall, Room 112
U.C. Berkeley
See additional information

Karen McNeill is a historian based in Oakland. She has been researching and writing about Julia Morgan since 2000 and has published multiple articles on the subject, including most recently, “‘Women Who Build’: Julia Morgan & Women’s Institutions,” in the Summer 2012 issue of California History. Her work focuses on women and gender in the architectural profession as well as how Progressive Era women used the built environment to expand their roles in society as consumers, reformers, educators, and professionals. Dr. McNeill is currently completing a book manuscript on Julia Morgan. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Autry National Center, the Bancroft Library, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. Beyond her work on Julia Morgan, Dr. McNeill teaches history and architectural history at colleges and universities in the Bay Area and has been involved in historic preservation, authoring several context statements for major surveys and successfully nominating a range of buildings to the National Register of Historic Places.