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Julia Morgan’s style

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Julia Morgan’s style

Julia Morgan was born in 1872. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in Civil Engineering and also studied architecture design at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
What I think different from other architect like Frank Lloyd Wright or Tadao Ando which when we see the building and notice their styles right away. Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who has works around the world known for his bere concrete structure styles, and many follower Japanese architects used similar style of his. In case of Julia Morgan, she doesn’t have her own original material and/or design, but devotedly follow her clients’ wishes and ideas. She mainly worked for her patron, William Randolph Hearst, but she continuously worked both big and small projects with or without his support until her age of 78. She was able to design many kinds of materials depending on her clients’ need, availability of materials, space size, and it’s surrounding atmosphere. Her style is conservative and she designed Renaissance Revival, Tudor, Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, Islamic and Asian styles. I am amazed her dexterousness and flexibility to challenge many styles of designs. I think in her time, especially as a woman, it must be hard to convince her creditability and ability.
Within many styles she did, she said herself that she has a fondness for the California Arts and Crafts style that Bernard Maybeck inspired her.
( Just at a glance of her tile design in the Module 6, session 5 image, I could tell the influence of Art & Craft Movement which developed in England in the 1860s. They were against the growing industrialization of Victorian Britain, and believed in the equality of all the arts and the importance and pleasure of work. So they tended to make simple and organic design within the commercial objects including buildings and interiors.
“Throughout her career, she designed nearly 800 projects in California and Hawaii.”
Just by looking at some of her works, (chosen from the Julia Morgan Index.
she designed different materials for housing and public buildings. For example, Aurora Stull House was made of redwood shingles,
and YMCA at Chinatown, San Francisco, and Emanu-el Sisterhood Residence (now the San Francisco Zen Center) were made with red brick.
Other buildings like Oakland YWCA, Fairmont Hotel, and Hearst Building in San Francisco were made with concrete. They were covered with plaster and encrusted with glazed terra cotta ornament.
Some house like Abraham Rosenberg House has a combination of both. It covered with concrete, but was timbered with redwood and painted over.
It apparently has her consideration for withstanding fires and earthquakes. After, 1906 San Francisco, and 1923 The Berkeley Fire, she tried to reinforced with her former houses and built new houses with stronger materials.
Despite of her planning of different materials used and style of structures, she utilized her design skills where she learned at l’Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris.
I like to mix that tradition with the sophisticated elements of classicism that I learned at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and with the demands of the client and the environment, both natural and man-made.”(
Almost all her buildings have her own unique ornament design, such as you see in the Star of David icon on the iron balcony of it loggia at the second floor of the San Francisco Zen Center.
Another Arts and Craft style that she was influenced from was symmetrical façade. Weather it is a small house or the massive Hearst Castle, symmetrical design made it looks as grace and simple. As an engineer, she could also concern with lighting effect in 3D form.
“I like to give illusion of space with ceiling designs. I consider how the room will be furnished. I think about how much natural light will filter into the room from the windows.”
Not talking about hash light coming in, but she made the subtle lighting coming though the building to have the entire feeling of the hallway, calm and peaceful. (see Hallway inside the Chinatown, San Francisco and YWCA – Interior, Oakland, CA in the websites.


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