In and around San Francisco

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2016

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Thousands of pictures were taken by participants in the San Francisco area during the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s annual conference in early November. While many people used sophisticated cameras, the democratization of photography through the smartphone enabled anyone to take high quality photos and post them to social media. While I take what I call “record shots” of the buildings we visit (literal views of the buildings for record purposes) I also look for different ways to interpret the architecture. Certainly mid-day is not the ideal time to shoot buildings, but one does what one can do while on tour!

Our first visit was to the Berger House in San Anselmo. I was struck by the juxtaposition of wood and stone…all put in place by the client over some 20 years as he built the house:

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The Walker House in Carmel has a dramatic prow on the west side of its site on the Pacific Ocean. Undine, a two-ton sculpture of a mermaid by Robert Howard was placed on the prow in 1964:

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Wright’s Marin County Civic Center and Hall of Justice in San Rafael (supervised by Aaron Green) is almost too easy to shoot in. Gold gates mark one of the entrances.

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The stairwells are dramatic, too:

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And then there is the gold tower:

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Conferees were able to spend time in the VC Morris Gift Shop near Union Square in the city. The building is in transition between its recent iteration as an art gallery and its next life as a showplace for Italian suits. One can argue whether it is better to photograph the shop with merchandise, as it was designed to showcase, or empty so one can see the pure forms Wright designed. References were made to Wright’s concurrent design for the Guggenheim Museum with its spiral ramp. I also thought of his unrealized 1949/1950 design for Racine’s YWCA, which had a ramp from the lobby to the next level.

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Sunday’s optional tour including a reception at the Fawcett House in Los Banos, certainly one of the more unusual sites for a Wright home…a dairy farm:

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In response to an email I just got from John Clouse after posting this, I recognize the conflict between those of us who selfishly want photos with no people in them and conferees who have every right to inspect every nook and cranny of every building we visit! I sometimes wish we had a “photo bus” with those on board agreeing not to rush the building as soon as we arrive.

Next year’s conference is September 13 – 17 in New York City. I leave you with a photo I took closer to home, of the moon rising over the Home and Studio in Oak Park this past Saturday, the day before the “Super Moon.”

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