Browse Exhibits (9 total)

Urban Beast or Urbane Beauty

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Planning the City Beautiful

One hundred years ago, Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett published a vision of Chicago that reflected the early stages of big city planning. The City Beautiful Movement, spurred by Baron Haussmann's remaking of Paris in the 1860s, was intended to create a rational, classical city to replace the crowded, unplanned Victorian city common in the 19th Century. The 1909 Plan for Chicago, although never fully realized, is heralded as the apex of the City Beautiful Movement which found echoes in plans for the San Francisco Civic Center, Oakland's City Center, the Sunol Water Tower Temple, and urban planning from Manila to Canberra, Australia. This exhibit explores the City Beautiful Movement as manifested in the San Francisco Bay Area, and subsequent attempts to make its wide boulevards, Beaux Arts buildings and neo-classical domes welcome to urban inhabitants.

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Environmental Design/A New Modernism

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50th Anniversary of the College of Environmental Design, 1959-2009

The College of Environmental Design (CED) was conceived of in the 1950s and formally established in 1959. To differentiate their ideas from Modernist dogma, the founders William Wurster, Catherine Bauer Wurster, Jack Kent, and their Bay Area colleagues dubbed their vision “Environmental Design,” or what we might call a “New Modernism.” The CED was unique not only because it was one of the earliest colleges to combine architecture, city planning, landscape architecture, and the decorative arts, but also because it emphasized the important role of the social, natural, and physical sciences in informing teaching, practice, and research. Wurster Hall, completed in 1964, has become the emblem of the founders’ vision where, in 2009, it continues to emerge anew.

The exhibit focuses on seminal moments from 1959 to 2009 in the evolution of the CED founders' vision, whereby teaching, research, and practice were informed by the social and natural sciences and which, in recent decades, has significantly come to include the computer sciences. It features images of drawings, photographs, and documents drawn from the Environmental Design Archives, the Environmental Design Library, the Bancroft Library, the University Archives, IURD and CEDR, and private collections.

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Off Hours


Environments for Entertainment

As Americans' leisure time has increased during the century, we have filled it with all manner of diversions.  This exhibit highlights the buildings and landscapes in which we seek respite from the stresses of daily life.  Grouped thematically as things to watch, play, eat and buy, the focus is on spaces sucha s theaters, restuarants, playgrounds, country clubs, stores and sports facilities.  Original sketches, photogrpahs, drawings and rare books are included in the material on display provided by the Enviornmental Design Archives, Visual Resources Center, and Environmental Design Library.

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Julia Morgan: Hidden Engineer

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The Designs of Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was a pioneer throughout her professional life.  The first woman to enter and complete an education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, she later designed Hearst Castle, and left more than 700 buildings throughout California and the West.  Among other reasons, she is notable for having designed so many women-commissioned projects.  This exhibit is mounted in conjunction with the Landmarks California Commission's Julia Morgan 2012 celebration, and re-examines some of Julia Morgan's most influential designs, using material from the Environmental Design Archives, Visual Resources Collection, and Environmental Design Library.

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Designing People


The figures that inhabit architectural and landscape renderings are not the actual focus of the drawings. Homeowners, children, pets, shoppers, and condo-dwellers are included to convey the scale and functionality of a proposed design. They humanize and create an emotional appeal in what might otherwise appear to be sterile environments and allow the client to imagine how a space will be used. From the watercolor Victorian to the scalie hipster, this exhibit features more than a century of designers’ representations of people from the Environmental Design Archives.


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SIX degrees


With more than 200 collections documenting the work of most of the San Francisco Bay Region’s historically significant architects and landscape architects, the holdings of the Environmental Design Archives are incredibly interconnected. Many of these connections stem from key figures or firms whose practice involved mentoring or collaborating with other regional architects and landscape architects.

This exhibition applies the theory of six degrees of separation to the designers whose collections are held by the Environmental Design Archives. Spanning 118 years, from the 1898 International Competition for the Phoebe Hearst Architectural Plan for the University of California to the present, SIX degrees showcases projects resulting from both personal and professional relationships.

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Designs from a Distance


Designing for a country not one’s own often results in projects that reflect the geo-political and economic factors at the time. Issues of diplomacy, colonialism, post-war reconstruction, new and old political allies, and resources such as rubber and petroleum and who manages them are only a few of the forces that compel the clients commissioning design projects. This exhibit features designs, landscapes, and planning projects on six continents by designers based in the San Francisco Bay Area and held by the Environmental Design Archives.

In some sense investigating “designing in foreign lands” is an exercise in following the money. Governments are the clients for embassies, developers contract commercial centers and resorts, businesses commission corporate facilities, and municipalities fund parks, schools, and master plans. International competitions also encourage designers to submit schemes for overseas projects. Other influential factors may be expertise in a particular building type such as Ernest Kump’s proficiency designing community colleges or clients requesting an architect or landscape architect from their home locale to design a project for them.

These projects, whether planning, landscape architecture, or architecture, both raise questions and provide insight.  Do they reflect cultural preferences? Do they engage local building materials and techniques?  Does plant selection reflect climate more accurately than building design, because it must?

Curator: Waverly Lowell
Exhibition Committee: Emily Vigor, Miguel Nieto, Esther MacKenzie, Chris Marino, Jason Miller

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Design and Diversity


This exhibit of original materials from the Environmental Design Archives showcases a nexus of design and diversity in a number of ways. One section reveals the diversity within CED’s history through photographs of students with their classmates, student publications and campus surveys; and examples of their work. One section addresses gender and power and investigates projects that women designers created for powerful men, organizations, and corporations. The largest section is intended to serve as inspiration by providing examples of significant work created by a diverse group of regional designers.

Curators: Chris Marino, Sabine Sträuli, Waverly Lowell
Exhibit Committee: Nicole Santiago, Emily Vigor, Jason Miller, Andrew Manuel

This exhibit has been funded by the ARCUS Endowment through the Diversity Platforms Committee of the College of Environmental Design

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Donald Olsen

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The Legacy of Donald Olsen – Modern Master

Donald Olsen (1919-2015) graduated with his Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Minnesota in 1941. He won a scholarship to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design but had to defer due to the outbreak and the United State’s involvement in World War II. During the war years, Olsen found himself in Richmond, CA where he worked at the Kaiser Ship Yard designing large manufacturing and office buildings as well as housing, railway systems, fire stations, and schools. Once the war ended he obtained his Master’s in Architecture from Harvard and graduated in 1946.

After a brief stint in the office of Eliel and Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Olsen returned to Berkeley where he worked for a brief time for Ernest Kump, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and finally Wurster, Bernardi, & Emmons. In 1954 Olsen began his own practice and remained for decades a much-esteemed and sought after architect. The same year that he began his own practice he was approached by William Wurster, then Dean of the School of Architecture at UC Berkeley, and asked to join the faculty. Olsen’s career lasted thirty-five years, until 1989 when he retired.

Inspired by the teachings of the Bauhaus and curriculum of Walter Gropius while studying at Harvard, Donald Olsen transported the International Style of modernism to the Bay Area. Olsen’s unwavering loyalty to modernism drove his career and allowed him to flourish both as a practicing architect and a professor at UC Berkeley. This exhibit explores the life and career of Donald Olsen from the start of his career with noted firms such as Saarinen, Swanson & Saarinen, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Wurster, Bernardi, & Emmons to establishing his own practice.

Beginning with Olsen's education and influences, this exhibition, organized by project type, includes his work designing residences, commercial and educational spaces, as well as unbuilt projects. All materials in this exhibition come from the Environmental Design Archives’ Donald Olsen Collection.

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