From Gothic to Berkeley, the Works of Bernard Ralph Maybeck

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

Born in New York City, Bernard Ralph Maybeck was the son of a German immigrant.  He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France and moved to Berkeley, California in 1892. 

At the University of California, Berkeley he taught architecture to such famous students as Julia Morgan and William Wurster.  He was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1951.

Maybeck was a pioneer in the Arts & Crafts movement but was equally comfortable working in the Gothic and Beaux-Arts Classicism styles.    In 1910 he designed the First Church of Christ, Scientist which is a National Historic Landmark and considered one of his finest works.  It is a mixture of Medieval Europe, Celtic, Japanese,  Nordic and shingle style architecture – the effect is pure magic.

Maybeck designed the famous landmark The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.   This structure embodies how Roman architecture could fit within a Calfornia context.  In this design he took advantage of negative space with the absence of a connecting roof to the rotunda and art gallery, there are no windows in the gallery and it is set against a backdrop of the bay and the local flora.

His homes and buildings can be seen dotting his beloved city of Berkeley and all around the  BayArea, he is one of the most beloved architects of our time in this part of the world.  It is because of his whimsical design that I grew to love and appreciate the architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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