Marin County Civic Center

Frank Lloyd Wright (and Taliesin Associates)
1959-62; 1967-69



In 1957 Wright accepted this commission (his 770th) at age ninety. Wright died in 1959 at ninety-two years before the ground-breaking ceremony had occurred. His work was continued by Taliesin architects, primarily senior architect William Wesley Peters and Aaron Green. Like many of Wrights buildings, this civic center plan is adjusted to the landscape. Green reports Wright's saying "I'll bridge these hills with graceful arches" (Green 21) and quotes from Wright's speech at the acceptance of the commission: "The beauty of Marin County should be expressed in our architecture. The buildings must not hurt the land. . . .The buildings of the new Civic Center will express this natural beauty; they will not be a blemish upon the landscape" (23). Often compared to an aqueduct, the building uses repeated arches (echoing the hills), a blue roof (not Wright's first choice of color) echoing the sky, and beige concrete echoing the original landscape. (Aaron Green added the lush landscape details.)

View from the East (left) with the tunnel entrance for traffic and a view from the hills to the west (right) showing the central dome and tower
 
Two "arms" extend from the central dome: the Administration Building, the south arm, completed first at 584 feet and the northwest arm, the Hall of Justice at 880 feet.

 

Views of the "tunnel" entrance for traffic and the top register

The arches of the main and second floor become circles in the top floor, two for each arc below. The eaves use half circles.

 

Views of the entrance under the "tunnel" and a detail of the entrance gates (a beautiful Wright design when closed)

 

The end of the Administration "arm" and the blue roof decorated with circular patterns




Click here to see details of the exterior and interior of the Marin County Civic Center.

See also the Veterans Memorial Auditorium on the the Civic Center site.


Work Cited: Green, Aaron G. An Architecture for Democracy: The Marin County Civic Center. San Francisco: Grendon Publishing, 1990.

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Copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

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