VLN: Bernard Maybeck: 1 (1892-1902) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Bernard Maybeck slide show

Chronological listing of 10 selected architectural works in the Bay Area by Bernard Maybeck (1892-1902).

1892, Berkeley, Bernard R. Maybeck house (#1)
Grove and Berryman St., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

Soon after the Maybecks bought the house on Berryman Street Maybeck, with the help of his students, [they] began enlarging it. By 1895 they had added the drafting room which he used as his office (Cardwell 1977: 40).

The small, original one-story cottage to which Maybeck made additions can be identified by the double hung windows in the lower left corner of the building (Cardwell 1977: 39).

Maybeck's Berryman Street house is pictured in Keeler's book [The Simple Home (1904)] and shows chalet characteristics which emerged in his experiments with building form upon his return from Europe [in 1898] (Cardwell 1977: 70).

[top of page]

1895, Berkeley, Keeler house,
1770-90 Highland Pl., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

Esther McCoy, in Five California Architects, has this to say of the Keeler house: "The various roofs, one a pagoda, had the feeling of a village street whose attached houses had been built by the same carpenter over a period of years." (Gebhard, Winter and Sandweiss 1985: 261-62)

The 1895 Charles Keeler house, and the studio built a few years later, are examples of these two directions [The first was the pitched roof, shingled house in the tradition of H.H. Richardson's shingle work of the eightes...in the spirit of the English crafts movement in the sixties...brought the vernacular into a closer relationship with official architecture. The second...more personal forms and by combinations of forms borrowed from historic styles]. In the house Maybeck developed a variety of forms and achieved unity in diversity. The various roofs, one a pagoda, had the feeling of a village street whose attached houses had been built by the same carpenter over a period of years (McCoy 1975: 14-15).

View of Davis, Keeler, Rieger, and Hall Houses, Ridge Road and Highland Place, Berkeley (Cardwell 1977: 56).

Maybeck built at least six Gothic houses prior to his departure for Europe as the Competition advisor. (Note 4:These included houses for L. G. Hall, W. W. Davis, C. Keeler, E. Kellog, and two unidentified houses published in Werner Hegeman, Report on the Municipalities of Oakland and Berkeley (Oakland: 1915), one of which is most likely the first A. C. Lawson house.) They were characterized by steep roofs, exposed framing, and intricate silhouettes. Inadequate records prevent the making of a totally accurate chronology of Maybeck's work; but three houses north of the campus, which escaped destruction by the Berkeley fire, provided a group that illustrated his initial approach to residential design. They were the Charles Keeler house (1895), the Laura G. Hall house (1896), and the Williston W. Davis house (1897) (Cardwell 1977: 58).

The Keeler house has been converted into apartments and the exterior stuccoed; the only unaltered reminder of Maybeck's original conception is its sharply pitched roofs creating a distinctive profile against the sky (Cardwell 1977: 60).

Keeler, ever the propagandist, said that the shingled hillside houses masked with vines were evidence of "an architecture of taste." But for Maybeck they may have represented the more deeply rooted concepts of Semper's four elements. Aspects of all four houses suggest tents, which Semper had cited as a logical first type of dwelling. The shingled roofs, particularly of the Davis and Keeler houses, seemmed to be draped over the structure, descending past the dormers to merge with the shingled walls. In places along the eavaes the roofs are pulled up, like tent flaps, to allow windows. Maybeck dramatized the smallness of the rooms in Keeler's house by bringing the struts supporting the roofs down into the human domain. In the Rieger house, he expressed the separation of roof from enclosure in a different way: instead of dropping down toward the ground like a hood, the roof is held up and away from the shingled walls by outriggers. In the Davis house, the only one for which a construction drawing survives (plate 17), the structural framework is clearly separated from the exterior skin of the house and articulated in a commanding way that made it a replacement for the nailed-on ornament that Maybeck and Keeler deplored. The drawing shows two tentlike forms set on a braced wooden platform--the equivalent of the hearth-protecting mound that Semper had identified as one of the four elements. The dominant hearths in these houses would recur in a variety of monumental forms throughout Maybeck's work (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 30-32).

In 1895--while Maybeck was teaching in Berkeley and San Francisco and also designing the Keelers' Highland Place house--Phoebe A. Hearst met with the university president to discuss her desire to donate a mining building in her husband's memory. As the only architect on the faculty, Maybeck was charged with drawing up a design for Mrs. Hearst's fast-approaching next visit (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 75).

Charles Keeler house, Ridge Road and Highland Place, Berkeley. Remodeled and stuccoed for Keeler by Maybeck, c. 1929; converted into apartments by subsequent owners (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 226).

[top of page]

1899, Berkeley, Town and Gown Club,
2401 Dwight Way, Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

This simply articulated shingle building with delicate outrigger roof bracketing looks about 50 years younger than it is (Gebhard, Winter and Sandweiss 1985: 275).

In the 1899 Town and Gown Clubhouse Maybeck followed the best tradition of direct building typical of so many of his early houses. Except for the outrigged cornice structure, the shingled exterior with its candid fenstration was an open book in which the plan within could be read. A system of V-bracing on the lower floor supported the clear space of the hall above. The hall itself, with a handsome open truss and a great fireplace, was like a medieval guild hall or parish church. Time gave a fine patina to the 12- and 14-inch redwood boards which formed a skin for the interior walls. The broad stairway with low risers, repeated by Maybeck in other buildings, created an atmosphere of leisure(McCoy 1975: 11-13).

After the completion of the Davis house in 1897, Maybeck's practice was interrupted by his trip abroad as advisor for the Competition [for the University general plan]. Upon his return in 1898, his initial concern was to prepare the entries in the Competition for judgment and to begin the building of the reception hall for Phoebe Hearst. As Maybeck resumed his teaching duties in the fall, his independent practice flourished. He was soon asked to design a clubhouse for a group of Berkeley women.

Through its use of structurally derived patterns, the Berkeley Town and Gown Club (1899), like Hearst Hall, is closely related to Maybeck's "Gothic houses." As a rule, Maybeck used the formulas he had learned at the École in the engineering classes of Emmanuel Brune. (Note 5: After Brune's death his widow was urged to publish his lectures in book form. E. Brune, Cours de Construction (Paris: 1888).) Some of his drawings reveal calculations for bending moments in beams and columns, but in the design of the Town and Gown Club his approach seems more intuitive than rational, based on feeling rather than analysis.

The clubhouse is a two-storied structure clad with unstained redwood shingles. The hipped roof has broad eaves supported by an intricate system of cantilevered beams which penetrate the walls and are balanced by ties and struts to the rafters. The timbering forms one of Maybeck's most interesting roofs; its light, cage-like construction provides a refreshingly unique covering to a room of handsome proportions and vigorous modeling. The volume of the room is constantly modified as the eye shifts from longitudinal beams to lateral ties of vertical struts overhead.

The building has always contained a first-floor lounge with a second-floor auditorium. However, by 1906, the club was enlarged to add a stage and additional seating space, and Maybeck's circular staircase leading to the upper room was removed. The building has been remodeled several times by architects other than Maybeck; but they have respected and conformed to the character, if not the detail, of the original structure.

In 1899 a newspaper printed a description of the building under the caption "An Odd Clubhouse for Berkeley Women." It stated:

Within a few weeks the finishing touches will be put upon a new women's clubhouse now going up on the corner of Dwight Way and Dana street, which is attracting much interest and curiosity on account of its peculiar oddity and eccentricity of design. The building, though partially complete, already shows its main points of outline, and these indicate a structure of the most unique kind, a radical departure from the conventional, bordering almost upon the freakish. (Note 6: From an unidentified clipping in the scrapbook collection of Julia Morgan, furnished through the courtesy of Flora Morgan North.)(Cardwell 1977: 62-64).

Phoebe Hearst also contributed the funds for the Town and Gown Club, designed by Maybeck in 1899 for a site south of the campus. As the name suggests, the club was intended as a place where university and nonuniversity residents of Berkeley could mingle. In this building (plate 64), as in the Rieger house (plate 16), the umbrellalike roof is supported on outriggers extending from the main structure. The outriggers also continue inside to support ties to the roof rafters and a horizontal grid of beams. The rectangular volume of the clubhouse is enclosed in a shingle skin. On the ground floor, an open space used as a lounge is punctuated with posts, set at an angle to the floor, that support the longitudinal ceiling beams; those beams in turn carry the crossbeams of the floor above. In this respect the building is a simple version of Hearst Hall. On the second floor the periphery of the open auditorium space could be screened off with curtains and redwood panels. The building was published in a newspaper article of 1899 headed, "An Odd Clubhouse for Berkeley Women." The reporter noted that the building was "attracting much interest and curiosity on account of its peculiar oddity and eccentricity of design." Unable to contain himself, the writer concluded by saying that the partially completed building was a "structure of the most unique kind, a radical departure from the conventional, bordering almost upon the freakish."7(Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 80).

[top of page]

1899, Palo Alto, Emma Kellogg house (#2),
1061 Bryant St., Palo Alto
Bernard Maybeck.

A rare early work of Maybeck's. The big gambrel roof gave this house the nickname of the "sunbonnet house" (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 186).

Two houses that Maybeck built in Palo Alto for Emma Kellogg in 1896 and 1899 also illustrate his experiments with new forms. The first, a Gothic house, was constructed in a community much like Berkeley and in an area where the students and staff of nearby Stanford University resided. (Note 7:B.R. Maybeck Photos, "Unknown," C.E.D. Docs. A photograph of a gable roofed house with surroundings similar to the second E. Kellogg house has not been identified or located.) Although very little is known about it, an article published in the Palo Alto Live Oak of November 6, 1896, described it as

the quaintest residence that has yet been built in Palo Alto. It is not large, covering but 30 x 36 feet of ground space, being a story and a half and having five rooms; yet the odd design of the exterior, with its covering of cedar shingles, its casement windows and broken outlines, makes it noticeable. The architect R. B. Maybeck [sic], instructor in the State University, designates it Californian in style.

The second Kellogg house, built on the same site, replaced the original, which was destroyed by fire during Maybeck's absence. It is a bold, asymmetrical composition with a recessed entry porch open to the south and the west. A low flight of broad corner steps leads to the intersecting streets bounding the site. A cantilevered portion of the second story, once supported by large console brackets, shelters the entrance, and the entire building is dominated by a large gambrel roof.

Perhaps Kellogg requested a house that would be less noticeable to the correspondent of the Palo Alto Live Oak. At first glance it seems an amazingly conventional house for Maybeck; but he might have been challenged by an expressed desire of the client to work with a traditional form. His inventive manipulation of a common shape, however, makes the roof distinctive. The junction of the planes is the reverse of the usual gambrel roof; the upper portion is overlapped by the lower to form a rain gutter. Its pitch above the second-story plate is so moderate that it disappears completely except in distant views. The lower planes which form the second story walls are extremely vertical and, by a slight flare at the eaves, leave the dormer windows an integral part of the first story. The roof enfolds and engages the walls of the building, creating a unified mass in contrast to the broken outlines of his earlier Gothic designs (Cardwell 1977: 66-67).

[top of page]

1900, Berkeley, Lilian Bridgman house
1715 La Loma Ave., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

Only two designs for the year 1900 have been attributed to Maybeck. Both the Lilian Bridgman house and the G. H. G. McGrew house add to his experiments in form. They represent a pattern of practice set for an unknown number of Berkeley houses in which he did not act in his full professional capacity. Less marked by Maybeck mannerisms than other designs, a strong participation by the owner is claimed for both. Maybeck was always willing to aid friends and neighbors in building projects and the degree of his participation had little to do with contractual arrangements.

The Bridgman house is modest. Its most unusual feature is its informal plan which developed naturally from the pattern of living of the owner-designer. Upon inheriting a modest estate from her family, Lilian Bridgman decided to construct a home for herself and her sister. She began the design but was soon confronted with technical difficulties which led her to seek Maybeck's advice. In his selfless manner he proceeded to design the house, encouraging Miss Bridgman to execute the drawings while he gave expert criticism and advice. There are no drawings from which to evaluate the contributions of each to the design; but the organization of the house and the details show the experienced hand of Maybeck. Miss Bridgman was evidently very pleased with her experience, for she later forsook teaching physics for the study of architecture and developed a modest practice in residential design. (Note 8: A second house on the Bridgman property is a good example of her work.)

Lilian Bridgman house, built-in bedroom furnishings.

The details of the house reveal Maybeck's skillful contributions to the basic design of his friend's home (Cardwell 1977: 68).

Maybeck's penchant for giving advice to his friends and neighbors resulted in some Berkeley houses that can be described as "school of Maybeck," since others made the drawings for them. One such house, located in Daley's Scenic Park, belonged to Lillian Bridgman, a founding member of the Hillside Club. At the time she built the house, in 1900, Bridgman was a high-school science teacher and poet, and Maybeck is said to have supervised her drawings for the house. According to her niece-biographer, he advised and encouraged Bridgman in what she called her "wild idea for the house." "Forget symmetry," he said, "join the wouth and west windows together at the corner. Bring in the light and the bay and a garden." 6 The experience pleased her so much that she later enrolled in the university's architecture program and became an architect herself (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 40).

[top of page]

Gifford McGrew house Gifford McGrew house Gifford McGrew house
1900, Berkeley, Gifford McGrew house,
2601 Derby St., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

This house with its restrained detail has a deceptively simple appearance. To gain an appreciation of its complex massing, the back should be studied from Hillegass (Gebhard, Winter and Sandweiss 1985: 276).

Only two designs for the year 1900 have been attributed to Maybeck. Both the Lilian Bridgman house and the G.H. G. McGrew house add to his experiments in form. They represent a pattern of practice set for an unknown number of Berkeley houses in which he did not act in his full professional capacity.

The house of G.H.G. McGrew was designed by Maybeck and the owner with ideas contributed by their common friend, Charles Keeler. Its forms recall the Gothic house Maybeck had built for Keeler. The McGrew house is an ell-shaped building two stories in height with an attic room contained by a steeply pitched gable roof. Facing a side street, its entrance porch is recessed into the building block. The entry hall lies between the dining and living rooms and leads to a stairway with square hand rails, balusters, and large square newel posts. A spacious bay at the landing, lighted by a pair of casement windows, is used as a writing area and is visible from the first floor entry. The play of light and the continuity of the stairway's board and batten soffit as it rises in the open well to the ceiling of the second floor creates interest and delight without the additon of decorative details. After this date the use of the changing volume of a stairwell to enrich architectural passages consistently reappears in Maybeck's work (Cardwell 1977: 68-69).

The McGrew house and its predecessors became the examples of a "movement towards a simpler, a truer, a more vital art expression" when, a few years later, Charles Keeler assumed the spokesman's role for the modest house and "the simple life." His publication of a small volume entitled The Simple Home (1904) is illustrated with Berkeley houses designed by Coxhead, Schweinfurth, and Maybeck. It contains many suggestions for building that Maybeck had put into practice in his early designs. As a token of his esteem, Keeler dedicated the volume to his "friend and conselor Bernard Maybeck." (cf. Charles A. Keeler, The Simple Home (San Francisco: Paul Elder and Company, 1904)(Cardwell 1977: 70).

In a similar way [to Lillian Bridgman], Maybeck helped Gifford H. McGrew and Charles Keeler shape the design of the McGrew family house south of the campus (plate 28). Since Maybeck was preoccupied with the competition for the university campus plan, Keeler took charge of working out the design and supervising the construction of the McGrew house. The resulting structure has affinities with a small studio building near Keeler's house that Maybeck helped him design for himself in 1902 (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 40, 41, 226).

[top of page]

Isaac Flagg house (#1)
1901c, Berkeley, Isaac Flagg house (#1),
1200 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

These three houses [Flagg houses (1-3)] are variations on the Swiss Chalet theme. 1200 is perhaps the most interesting for its combination of board-and-batten with shingle siding and elegant eave brackets. 1208 was originally a one-story library-study, and 1210, built for a daughter, is a variation with a pronounced vertical emphasis (Gebhard, Winter and Sandweiss 1985: 253).

Broad eaves supported by struts from the second-story walls combine to give the house an air of strength and quiet dignity (Cardwell 1977: 72).

Maybeck's experiments on his own house provided the prototype for several others that followed. The Isaac Flagg house (1901) was probably the first of Maybeck's adaptation of the chalet for a client (Note 10: The Rieger house had overtones of chalet design, but its broken profile and massing were not characteristic of the style). Flagg was a professor of Classics and owned an acre at the north end of the Berkeley residential district a short distance from the Maybeck house on Berryman Street. Over the years Maybeck designed a number of projects for the Flaggs, three of which were built on the north Berkeley property.

The first house, a two-storied structure with a habitable attic under the low pitched gable roof, crowns a knoll of the site. Its broad, six-foot eaves are supported by struts that spring from the second story walls. The square struts are thickened at their middles to create a visual impression of strength. In their design Maybeck followed a concept advocated by Viollet-le-Duc--that structural members whould reveal by their shape the stresses that occur within them. A very large trapezoidal opening in the east gable wall of the Flagg house provides fresh air for a sleeping porch, and a prow-shaped bay window of the west gable furnishes a view from the attic story. These bold elements, combined with the wide eaves and prominent struts, set the scale of the entire house.

In the interior, the spacious rooms, the wide stairway, and the huge fireplace echo the strong features of the exterior. The rooms are arranged as in a central hall plan, but without hall walls, thus combining the entry, the stairwell, and the living areas into an informal unified space. The living room fireplace is constructed of buff-colored brick, and the overmantle is formed by short corbels bearing a wooden lintel which supports paneling sloped to the ceiling to cover the passage of the chimney through the floor above. Maybeck repeated this fireplace form, Jacobean in flavor, in numerous variations throughout his career. Executed in many materials--stone, brick, wood, and rough concrete--it became a hallmark of his residential designs. The basic fireplace form of the Flagg house with its heavy mantle and inclined paneling was used in various adaptations on many of his subsequent residential designs (Cardwell 1977: 73).

Maybeck's first house for Isaac Flagg (a professor of classics for whom he eventually designed three houses on Flagg's Shattuck Avenue property) was not a literal translation of the Swiss chalet (plate 29). It is a rectangular building with a low-pitched gable roof that extends six feet beyond the main body of the house and is supported by cigar-shaped struts, tapered at each end, that stretch from bases set into the walls of the second story to the outer edge of the eaves. The shape of the struts expresses the concentration of stress in the middle of the member, a revelation of structure that Viollet-le-Duc would have appreciated. The top floor is cut into on the east side by a sleeping deck and bowed out on the west side by a prow-shaped window. The boxed sets of tripart casement windows on either side of the gable-roofed entrance are placed relatively low to the ground and have a stronger horizontal emphasis than the paired casement windows with flower boxes on the second story. Above the paired windows, the shingled walls change to wide boards and battens, a shift that both directs attention to the great sheltering roof and makes the walls look taller. Maybeck seemed to use the chalet image as an excuse to play games with proportions and materials that make the building seem larger and grander than a faithful rendition of the chalet would have been.

The house is sited on what was originally a corner lot so that the main entrance on its long side faces the interior of the large parcel of land. The symmetrical facade implies a central-hall plan, but the hall is not defined by interior walls. A stairway opposite the front door defines an axis but does not interrupt the flow of space across the front of the house. As a result, the house appears more spacious inside than it really is. The living and dining areas are anchored by fireplaces; the larger hearth, in the living room, has a bench that is also a screen wall attached to the fireplace wall. (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 42-44, 226).

[top of page]

1902, Berkeley, Faculty Club building
University of California, Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

Original portion by Bernard Maybeck 1902; additions in 1903-04 by John Galen Howard, 1914 and 1925 by Warren Perry, and 1959 by Downs and Lagorio (Gebhard, Winter and Sandweiss 1985: 271).

Stands at the end of Faculty Glade. Designed by Maybeck in a modified Mission Revival style; it has been enlarged several times, but the original main hall is intact (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 210).

The only Maybeck buildings on the campus now are the Men's Faculty Club, built before [John Galen] Howard's arrival, and the Hearst Memorial Gymnasium for Women; the gymnasium was designed by Maybeck in association with Julia Morgan, the architect of San Simeon, in 1927, the year [John Galen] Howard resigned (McCoy 1975: 6-7).

Structure to Maybeck was to be lived with, not avoided. He put engineering principles to work for him in the 1906 Hopps house where paired rafters accepted a post between; also in the king post trusses of the Town and Gown Clubhouse, 1899, and the Men's Faculty Club, 1900, as well as the cruciform truss of the 1910 Christian Science Church (McCoy 1975: 11).

The original plaster finish and form of the Faculty Club suggests the old California Missions. Projecting trellis beams are extensions of interior framing members. The small stucco building to the rear housed the kitchen of the University Dining Association (Cardwell 1977: 78).

The conflict between the medieval and classical idioms is well illustrated by the Faculty Club of the University of California with its interior vertical volume and structural lines contrasting with the horizontal fenestration and low-pitched gable roof of the exterior. The clubhouse was built in 1902; transformations and additions over the years have extended and refurbished the original facilities to meet the needs of an expanding faculty. (Note 13: Additions have been designed by J. G. Howard, W. C. Perry, W. S. Wellington, G. Downs and H. Lagorio). Nothing would have pleased Maybeck more than this organic growth of a building. It is a tribute to its designer that each architect has been able to leave the stamp of his own detail without changing the character of the original structure.

The rapid expansion of the University at the turn of the century brought to the campus a large number of men of diverse training and tradition. Even the geographical layout of the campus divided the staff into northsiders and southsiders. Faced with increasing divergence, a group of the faculty sought to establish a common meeting place for relaxation and recreation and "mutual good fellowship," where plans and policies affecting the University could be freely and informally discussed, where men could rub elbows and get clearer and closer views of one another than is possible "in the deadly atmosphere of an ordinary faculty meeting." (Note 14: "The Faculty Club," University Chronicle (October, 1902), pp. 196-207.) (Cardwell 1977: 79).

The program for the facilities changed even while Maybeck was designing the dining room and lounge area that had been called for. A number of the bachelor members of the faculty offered additional financial support if they could be provided with living accommodations. These were included in Maybeck's building which eventually consisted of a large hall, a billiard room, a writing room, a lounge, and living quarters. There was no kitchen, the dining room being served by a corridor from the facilities of the adjeacent University Dining Association. Subsequent additions to the north, east, and south have more than doubled the size of the club building and have changed some of the uses of Maybeck's original rooms.

One room that remains essentially the same is the dining room, which the members call the Great Hall. Its interior framing is suggestive of Gothic timering. Eight built-up columns of rough two-by-tens support a system of timbers framed as a half-truss for the low-pitched gabled roof. Each half-truss rises up and over to join its counterpart springing from the opposite side of the room. Balanced on the columns, the trusses are tied to the foundations by a steel rod. This ingenious framing, designed to give a high central space without any horizontal ties, is more readily understood in the later Unitarian Church at Palo Alto, which had a similar, though not identical, framing system.

The Great Hall has a sharply pitched ceiling carried by beams and purlins supported on the inner members of the trusses. Near the ridge, secondary truss ties create triangular spaces which are decorated with band sawn trefoils. The interior finish of the dining room is redwood board and batten, though in the gable end above the plate line of the wall framing the diagonal sheathing is exposed. A massive fireplace faced with matte-glazed tiles dominates the west wall. A large opening in the north wall is fitted with paired French doors leading to an exterior deck sheltered by a trellis. In Maybeck's original design the south wall was similarly treated. Above the French doors, transom windows are glazed with art glass interpretations of the seals of major universities. Adding to the Gothic allusion of the timber framing, beam ends projecting from the trellises into the room are rudely shaped to resemble heads of dragons. At one time Maybeck said the dragon's head found on many of his buildings was a tribute to his father's craft of wood carving.

The walls of the writing room were covered by stretched burlap, citron colored, and held in place by gilded, narrow half-round moldings. Its red brick fireplace was set flush with the halls. The upstairs residence rooms were reached by a hall in the form of an English long gallery whose continuous fenestreation of simple casement sash and window seat along its north side afforded a simple, private lounge for resident members.

The exterior finish of Maybeck's section of the Faculty Club is principally a natural-colored sand plaster. Redwood shinges cover a portion of the second-story walls. The roof is of mission tile. Heavy wooden corbels and projecting trellis beams are extensions of the framing members of the interior. Arched entrance and window openings suggest California Mission forms. (Note 15: William C. Hays, "Some Interesting Buildings at the University of California," Indoors and Out, 2, (May, 1906), pp. 70-75. The earliest critical review of Maybeck's work including comments on Hearst Hall and the Faculty Club.) The building with its fittings cost $4,400, and for that sum Maybeck was able to create the desired informal atmosphere while maintaining the vigorous scale and character of a men's club.

In contrast to the exterior, the interior of the Great Hall with its great fireplace and wooden structural system was markedly Gothic in form and feeling. The building was used even before its interior was finished as can be seen in this photograph of the first annual meeting of the club (Cardwell 1977: 80).

The completion of the Faculty Club in 1902 ended a busy year for Maybeck. In addition to building the Boke and Kellog houses, he had received at least five other residential commissions. And at home the birth of a daughter, named Kerna McKeehan after paternal and maternal grandparents, added to family responsibilities (Cardwell 1977: 81).

Color became a strong feature in Maybeck's design of the Isaac Flagg Studio (1906). It soom became one of the distinctive elements of many of his buildings. Other than the moss green and earth red paints used on window sash, in the first ten years of his work color is little evidenced. The Faculty Club had walls covered with a green-gold burlap fastened with gilded half-round moldings. In Hearst Hall, Maybeck had installed red and blue lights to cast colored tones into shadowy recesses. But generally, plain, unstained woods provided the architectural background and color accents had been achieved by means of furnishings--tapestries in Hearst Hall and Wyntoon, oriental carpets and window hangings in the smaller buildings (Cardwell 1977: 88).

In the structural design for the Hillside Club (1906)[destroyed in the 1923 Berkeley fire] Maybeck moved away from his simple artisan approach towards one that foreshadowed modern architects' separation of the structure and the skin of buildings in new spatial orders. His ingenious framing of the Faculty Club had started the experiment, but its interior was static and axially balanced. In the Hillside Club Maybeck created a fluid, asymmetrical composition of interior volumes. His goal was not to create new forms but to enrich old ones (Cardwell 1977: 90).

It is surprising that Maybeck's tracery [in Paul Elder and Co. bookstore, 239 Grant Street, San Francisco, 1908 (Destroyed)] had little if any relationship to the building's structural order; he seemed to prefer to use it as a screen for space or light. Other decorative treatments--such as his trellis forms--often grew from basic framing members as they had in the Faculty Club. Even his exposed wood sheathing patterns developed from a simple repetition of lines into decorative schemes of boards contrasting in widths and accented by color (Cardwell 1977: 95).

There is much symbolism in all of Maybeck's work. From the obvious device of the dragon mark of his father's craft to the choice of materials, symbolism of some form exists in most of his work. (Note 10: The dragon device was used in Wyntoon, the Faculty Club, Outdoor Art Club, Flagg studio, Owens house, Tufts house (San Rafael), Kennedy studio, and the Chamberlain studio among others (Cardwell 1977: 125).

Another type of building that occupied Maybeck during his first decade of practice was the clubhouse. As the history of the Hillside Club attessts, social clubs played an important part in the lives of Berkeley residents. By 1901, members of the university faculty who belonged to a dining association for students and faculty had decided to form their own organization and build a clubhouse so that they could socialize in a more informal way than the regular faculty meetings permitted. The twenty-two members had their first club meeting in March 1902, and six months later they held inauguration ceremonies and lit the fire in the great hall of the new clubhouse. The minutes of the Building Committee meetings state that Maybeck, who was a club member, offered to design the building at no charge. He also asked the members to vote on whether they wanted a high, pointed ceiling for the meeting hall or a low one. The high form won. The only other mention in the minutes of the design of the building was a recommendation that the roof be tiled.

The Faculty Club (plate 52) occupies one edge of an oak-studded, bowl-shaped glade on the Berkeley campus; the south fork of Strawberry Creek runs along the opposite edge. As the site of an Indian camping ground, the glade had once been the setting for sacred rites associated with food gathering; academic rites--graduations and assemblies of one kind and another--replaced those rituals. The long rectangular plan of the Faculty Club originally consisted of two wings flanking a central entrance, and it hardly intruded upon the glade until it was enlarged in 1914 by Warren Perry with a wing that turned the corner toward the north. Maybeck had apparently considered adding wings to the building to enclose a patio on the south side, but his proposal was abandoned in favor of an addition by John Galen Howard in 1903-04. Sympathetic additions were made by other architects over the years, and even with the many enlargements, the Faculty Club retains the unpretentious character that Maybeck gave it.

The design for the club building reveals that Maybeck's loyalty to his education at the Ecole never inhibited him from following his own ideas, for here he violated the principle of caractère by creating a Gothic hall inside a building of decidedly Mediterranean style. The exterior alludes to California's Franciscan missions in its rectangular tower, its tile roofs, and its adobe-colored plaster walls with large, arched openings on either side of the former library on the ground floor of the west wing (plate 53). A room was created in the tower for Henry Morse Stephens, a very popular professor of history, who paid for it and is said to haunt it.

Why Maybeck chose to use the mission as his model for the club is not known. The indefatigable writer and publisher of Californiana, Charles Lummis, had launched a crusade to save the missions in 1895 with the founding of the Landmarks Club in southern California. Images of the crumbling mission structures had been published even before that; a series of ten articles on the missions had appeared in California Architect during 1891, which increased interest in them. As artists and architects sketched what remained of the missions, a style known as Mission Revival, which synthesized their distinctive features, spread throughout the state.

The great hall, in the club's east wing (plate 54), is a Nordic contradiction of the Mediterranean exterior: the low-pitched gable roof gives no indication that the interior has a high-peaked ceiling. The ceiling's structure of heavy timbers rests on a system of short beams tied back into the walls and heavy piers built up of rough sawn, two-by-ten-foot boards that stand away from the walls of the room. Thus the ceiling is a structure within the main building structure and recalls Semper's primal roof. Outside the hall on the north side is a terrace sheltered by a wooden trellis, which rests on beams that are extensions of those inside. The ends of the beams inside the hall are carved in pairs of stylized dragon heads (plate 55). (Maybeck once said that the dragon heads, a recurrent motif in his work, were a memorial to his father's wood carving.) Triangular braces at the ceiling ridge are perforated with trefoils. The great fireplace on the west wall is faced with mat-glazed tiles and has a shallow mantelshelf made of a single timber placed about nine feet above floor level. Above the mantel are elk horns mounted on a large wooden "keystone." In creating this powerfully primitive setting, Maybeck seems to have tried to evoke an immemorial time and give the infant organization a head start on tradition.

The composition of the west wing is quite different. The ridge of the gable roof is offset from the center of the building toward the south, apparently to give more daylight to the assembly room, which occupies the upper floor. The longer northern slope of the tile roof covers a projecting bay that runs the length of the room; the downward sweep of the ceiling makes the interior seem tentlike. These hints of Semper's lingering influence in the roof and ceiling structure of the Faculty Club are echoed in the other clubhouses that Maybeck deisgned (Woodbridge and Barnes 1992: 64, 65-68, 227).

[top of page]

1902, Berkeley, Hiram D. Kellogg house
2960 Linden St., Berkeley
Bernard Maybeck.

The Boke house did not bring to a close the designs that might be called chalets; but it did achieve the same integration of structure, plan, and spatial design which Maybeck had sought in his Gothic houses. Other experiments of the time made use of English vernacular forms as seen in the shingled cottage of 1902 for Professor Hiram D. Kellog. Its living space was derived from the English hall, and was enriched by a two-storied bay window and a balconied corridor which led to the upstairs bedrooms. A fireplace reminiscent of American colonial designs with a highbacked settle of redwood created an inglenook and added a cosy note to the highceilinged room. (Note 12: In recent years the upper portion of the room has been floored to create additional bedroom space. The house has been moved [from Regent Street] to 2960 Linden St., Berkeley)

Hip-roofed dormers, cantilevered bays and shingled mullions at the windows reveal Maybeck's delighted approach to architecture. Structural variety and richness immediately confront the viewer--nothing was static (Cardwell 1977: 77).

[top of page]

1902, San Francisco, T. J. Bunnell, living room addition
Broadway near Pierce, San Francisco
Bernard Maybeck.

Living room addition. Housed moved to this location and remodeled in 1904 (Cardwell 1977: 240,241).

[top of page]


add = Additions; nm = No Mention; rem = Remodelled; rest = Restoration