Joy in the Act of Drawing: Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts focuses on Bernard Maybeck's working drawings for the surviving fragment of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Because it was originally designed as a temporary structure, it has been dismissed by some critics as the roughly detailed product of a speedy production process. However, Alexander Ortenberg shows that the working drawings were carefully produced in accordance with the professional standards of American Beaux-Arts architecture. What appear to be crude details were the product of thoughtful study, in which the charcoal of the earlier sketches was translated into the hard ink line of working drawings. Exploiting the liveliness of the drawing medium, Maybeck invented architectural details that preserved the freshness of his initial sketches and helped to define the theatrical character of the building.
The title of Reyner Banham's short 1984 article dedicated to the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, "The Plot against Bernard Maybeck," was clearly meant as a provocation.1 Maybeck could hardly have been considered a victim of a conspiracy of silence, "plotted" against by architectural historians, least of all in the case of the palace. The project had been mentioned in all the major surveys of twentieth-century American architecture with its image gracing the cover of one and prominently placed inside of the others.2 Virtually every author found at least some words of praise for its architect. Tribute was paid to the attic's fragmented silhouette, which evoked the ruins of antiquity; the monumentality of the great colonnade and the rotunda softened by the masterful landscaping; the melancholic poetry of the lagoon, whose waters reflected an imposing and yet dreamlike structure; and other features that added to the ensemble's mood of "vanished grandeur" (Figure 1).3 However, Banham was certainly correct. The palace's reception was lukewarm in comparison to the assessment of Maybeck's other projects. Architectural historians—especially those mentioned by Banham—never went beyond brief acknowledgments of the palace's picturesque qualities and thus avoided serious analyses of the project.
In the twenty-seven years that have passed since the publication of Banham's article, the scholarship on Maybeck's work has expanded substantially and offers a more profound reading of the Palace of Fine Arts' design.4 However, with no major research dedicated specifically to this project, many of Banham's questions remain unanswered.
The tepid assessment of the palace was partially due to the fact that it was designed as a temporary structure for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which took place in San Francisco in 1915; it was to be demolished with the rest of the fair six months after its opening. Spared from this fate because of its popular appeal, the palace was still considered a less than earnest piece of architecture. Additionally, Maybeck was criticized for his use of the language of classical antiquity, which he learned during his years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris but rarely applied to projects that preceded the palace.5 His major works realized between the late 1890s and the early 1910s—such as Hearst Hall (1898), the faculty club of the University of California at Berkeley (1902), the outdoor faculty club in Mill Valley (1904), the First Church of Christ Scientist in Berkeley (1910), and a number of residences—strived to develop an architectural idiom appropriate for the climate and lifestyle of the San Francisco Bay Area and were inspired by the Arts and Crafts philosophy.6 Unlike these projects, the Palace of Fine Arts adopted a classical language that was considered by modernist historians to be a step back from Maybeck's earlier and more innovative practices, a compromise that may have been justifiable for a festival structure, but which also reduced it to a lower position in his architectural legacy.
Moreover, early-twentieth-century experts in ancient Greek and Roman architecture criticized Maybeck for creating an indiscriminate melee of classical forms. Ironically, critics from both camps made a similar assumption—the temporary nature of an exposition pavilion had invited a less restrained and more makeshift approach than a permanent structure would have allowed. Hence, many of the palace's striking characteristics were too easily dismissed as whimsical and purely picturesque contrivances, effective in creating a mood but not justified by functional and structural logic or by a rigorous study of an appropriate historic precedent.
The great volume, diligence, and graphic mastery of sketches and working drawings for the palace refute the assumption that its details and overall design were developed with anything less than great care. Maybeck faithfully followed the method of design and production embraced by the majority of the profession at the turn of the twentieth century. His drawings reveal a struggle to develop an interpretation of ancient Greek and Roman architectural vocabulary that connoted the special materiality of a temporary building. The drawings read as provocative combinations of Beaux-Arts principles with the influence of nineteenth-century theorists such as John Ruskin, Gottfried Semper, and Eugéne-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.7 They offer another insight into the architect's approach: Maybeck was inspired by the drawing medium itself.
Maybeck's mastery and love of drawing could be traced to his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Unlike Louis Sullivan or Charles and Henry Greene, he had fond memories of this education.8 One of his cherished recollections, which he shared with a number of interviewers—with some variations—was of an early lesson given by Jules-Louis Andrê, his patron at the Ecole.9 Andrê took a drawing neatly executed by his young pupil and, to Maybeck's dismay, covered it with bold strokes of soft pencil and charcoal. Having done this, Andrê accentuated some lines and erased some others, giving the drawing a character that it had lacked before. When reciting the anecdote in a rare taped interviews, Maybeck noted that since adopting Andrê's technique and his emphasis on drawing, he had "never been an architect, [he had] only liked one line better than another."10 The sketches and working drawings produced for the palace show that this statement was less self-deprecating than it sounded. The drawings reveal an appreciation for different types of architectural representation and show that Maybeck's design evolved as he navigated from one medium to another.
Typical of the rhetoric of early twentieth-century architectural journalism, an anonymous article in Pencil Points magazine in 1923 argued that the process of making working drawings could give a good architectural draftsman a sense of pride and joy.11 Maybeck's working drawings and the sketches that led to their production show that he and his draftsmen experienced this joy. The pleasure of making the working drawings for the palace inspired many of its details.
Palace of Fine Arts: Conception, Execution, and Reception
The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the principal buildings of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which took place in San Francisco in 1915 (Figure 2). The exposition celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal, and its main theme was the bond forged between the East and the West. Among the reasons that San Francisco was chosen over other West Coast cities was its swift recovery from the 1906 earthquake.12 The city's resuscitation demonstrated its physical resilience and spiritual energy. Rebuilding the entire city in a very short period of time also demonstrated the business community's ability to tackle large projects. However, some of the exposition's events and projects were designed to convey a very different sentiment—the memory of a great loss and an appreciation of the fragility of human life and creation. A pavilion, designated to house an art exhibition, was to become a natural site to display melancholy, while the rest of the fair was to exude the optimism of industrial capitalism expanding around the globe, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bridging East and West.13 San Francisco architect Willis Polk was named chairman of the exposition's Executive Council for Architecture.14 The design of individual pavilions was awarded to well-established architectural firms with nation-wide reputation, such as Carr®re and Hastings, Henry Bacon, and McKim, Mead and White; San Francisco architects such as W. B. Faville, Arthur Brown, George Kelham, Louis-Christian Mullgardt, and Clarence Ward; and Los Angeles architect Robert Farquhar. Polk intended to retain the commission for the Palace of Fine Arts for himself.
The story of Polk's magnanimous gesture in stepping aside and handing the project of the palace to Bernard Maybeck has been told by a number of historians.15 Although originally hired as a draftsman for the executive council, Maybeck won the office's internal competition. With Polk's support, his design was presented to the advisory architectural commission, where it was unanimously praised, leading to Maybeck's assumption of responsibilities as the project's architect (Figure 3). Frank Morton Todd, author of the official history of the exposition, described the momentous meeting that took place in August 1912:
"Beauty that thrilled the hearts of millions came from this bare committee-room. . . [N]ever before in the history of America, has it been given men to seize upon and adopt for embodiment such a dream as this. Some of the leading architects of the country were there. . . and there was put before them on the wall the suggestion of a vision. . . No one at the conference room could see anything else."16
Todd's description of the dreamlike aura of Maybeck's design was echoed by many visitors to the exposition. An appreciation of the project's affinity with stage design marked a large number of their accounts.17 It should be said that a dreamlike aura was ascribed to the exposition in general. However, more often than not, such descriptions were inspired by the structures' projected short life, not their appearance.18 Uniquely, while the palace was compared to scenography, it conveyed both monumentality and the fragility of this dream.
In one of the first reviews of the project in the professional press, architect and critic William Lee Woollett declared that the Palace of the Fine Arts was "purely a piece of scene-painting."19 He used this expression to defend it against those who criticized its eclectic mix of classical orders.20 Woollett argued that because of its transient nature, the palace should not be judged by the standards of permanent architecture: "No one forgets for an instant that it is merely a dream of perishable material.. . . That the canons of good architecture are not satisfied, that precedent and propriety, and the standards of good taste in minor details have been scandalized. . . that as a permanent work of architecture this group of buildings would be impossible, is totally beside the point."21
A large number of professionals and critics were scandalized, indeed, when they learned that due to the immense popularity of the palace, there were plans to conserve it after the exposition's close.22 The San Francisco chapter of the AIA and a number of prominent architects advised against such plans; in fact, if any "plot" against Maybeck's palace existed, his contemporaries in the professional community were the conspirators.23 However, due to Polk's ardent support, the structure was spared from the demolition that was the fate of the rest of the fair. Even though the city of San Francisco was never able to find an appropriate use it, it also survived several plans to clear the land. However, due to the lack of maintenance, by the 1950s the palace was in such a state of disrepair that it began to raise concerns for public safety, and it was declared unsafe for use.24 When the attempts of city officials to secure state and federal funds for the building's restoration failed, the battle for its preservation seemed to be over. Then in 1958, a two-million-dollar donation came from a wealthy San Francisco businessman, Walter S. Johnson.25 Combined with other funds collected for the palace's restoration, Johnson's donation made such a project feasible, and, after deliberation, the decision was made to replace the aging structure with a replica. In 1968 the Palace of Fine Arts was rebuilt with permanent materials.
While discussing the possibility and desirability of the palace's restoration, the dichotomy between the permanent and the ephemeral became the center of the debate. In an interview, San Francisco architect Frank Ehrenthal stated, "Theatrical, scenographic art has ephemeral value, and should not be confused with enduring values. We cannot speak of architecture when structures do not have organic unity, but false, faked unity in structure and ornamentation."26
Architectural historian William Jordy, who wrote his seminal American Buildings and Their Architects: Progressive and Academic Ideals at the Turn of the Twentieth Century soon after the restoration had been completed, discussed the building in similar terms. He acknowledged a number of remarkably dramatic effects achieved in Maybeck's project. He mentioned the popular devotion to the palace that had saved it from demolition, stating that an affection of this kind was a high compliment to the architect's talent. However, Jordy concluded by contrasting the palace's dreamlike architecture with the principles of earnest design, more appropriate for a piece of permanent architecture.27 He used "scenographic" and "eccentricity" as derogatory terms, and made it plain that stage set design should not be confused with "real architecture."28 In short, he concurred with the view that the preservation of the palace went against major principles of the profession.
The Stagelike Appearance and the Metaphor of Clay
Perhaps rebuilding the palace in permanent materials indeed contradicted the essence of the project—but for different reasons than those stated by Jordy. Far from being incapable of "discrimination of design from dream," Maybeck took the juxtaposition of the building's monumental appearance and its ephemeral construction as a major inspiration.29
One of the project's most recognizable characteristics is the lagoon, embraced by the crescent of the colonnade. As few commentators failed to notice, it greatly added to the melancholic mood of the composition. And yet, filling the whole space in front of the palace with water was far from an obvious choice. A crescent formed by two wings of a colonnade is a recurring theme in baroque ensembles—one of the archetypal features of the Western European public square. In fact, most of the Panama-Pacific Exposition's grounds consisted of such plazas—all paved and packed with people. Atypically, Maybeck made the oval plaza in front of the palace an artificial lake (see Figure 2).
Post-Renaissance urban design principles defined the meeting place of two wings at the entrance of a large building as the focal point of a public plaza. The space embraced by these wings was envisioned to direct movement toward the main destination. This design usually provided visitors the opportunity to experience the architecture in a variety of ways, from a view of the whole ensemble, to a close range observation of details. In the case of the Palace of Fine Arts, this gradual progression was made impossible.30 Not unlike spectators in a theater, who normally do not have access to the space of the stage set, the visitors of the Palace of Fine Arts were prevented by the lake from crossing the space embraced by the wings.31 The approach to the building was broken into two distinctive experiences—a view of the whole ensemble from a distance and a series of close-up vistas framed by the columns of the colonnades. Eventually, the visitors were let into the "back-stage"—the art exhibitions inside the main building. There it was finally revealed that, though monumental from the outside, the large hangar-like building was nothing but a thin layer of plaster hanging on a light metal and wood frame. It was in moving between these three experiences—a view from the audience, standing in the proscenium, and a visit to the back stage—that visitors were to understand that the monumentality of the rotunda was a scenographic effect.32 Sally Woodbridge mentions that in the design of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Maybeck relied on his experience in stage-set design.33 His major concept for the palace drew from the same source, and sketch section dated 10 October 1912, still at a relatively early point in the design process, indicate his intention to emphasize the discrepancy between appearance and structure.34
Many of the exposition pavilions were designed as if they employed durable and expensive materials, and their designers' working drawings display this attitude. Louis Christian Mullgard's drawings for his project of the Court of Ages and the Altar Tower depict walls as if they consisted of solid masonry (Figure 4). Conversely, Maybeck's working drawings represented the true thickness of the stucco skin, bringing to mind Semperian differentiation between the enclosure and the frame (Figure 5).35 Woodbridge states that turn-of-the-century architects considered Semper's theory to be most appropriate for temporary structures.36 Maybeck's acknowledgment of the thin skin of the palace was not unrelated to his attempt to emphasize its affinity with a temporary stage set.
Viewed in the context of Maybeck's honesty in representing the actual construction of the palace on the inside, the treatment of classical details on the exterior shows the consistency of his approach. Too easily dismissed as "more for an overall effect of keeping with the occasion than for intense and prolonged scrutiny," these details rather symbolize the building's construction in the claylike building material.37 Instead of misrepresenting the hardness of stone, Maybeck's details express the plasticity of the plaster from which they were made.38 While evoking the Corinthian order, he refused to reproduce the slender proportions of columns and the crisp details that depended on the use of marble, which could be finely carved and subjected to great vertical loading.39 On the contrary, Maybeck's rendition of these details denotes their highly malleable and impressionable material. In this respect, the classical place was as faithful to the principle of truthfully representing the building's construction as Maybeck's earlier Arts and Crafts–inspired projects.40
The proportions of the palace's column shafts were clearly shorter and heavier than appropriate for the Corinthian order, whose height is conventionally about ten times the diameter of the shaft at the bottom; Maybeck's columns are about eight diameters tall (Figures 6, 7).41 Less noticed is the fact that many other elements, such as the columns' bases and capitals and concavities of the fluting, are treated in a similarly unorthodox way. The bases are broader than those shown by the majority of Beaux-Arts compilations of antique architecture. Both toruses read flatter, and the bottom torus projects farther than, for example, the bases of the Hector d'Espouy's recording of the column base at the Temple of Mars Ultor (see Figures 6, 7).42 Concavities of the fluting, traditionally semicircular, were in Maybeck's design much shallower (Figure 8).
These "crudities" were intentional and reflected the character of a material that would not allow for hard and clean edges, and which required vertical members to have larger horizontal sections. The crispness of ancient Roman and Greek details depended on the use of the chisel, the lathe, and a polishing technique that gave them a smooth finish. The plasticity and the roughness of Maybeck's details suggest the process of molding mortar mix by the hand of a craftsman—as was the case of the plaster of paris that was used for the palace's exterior.
A comparison of Maybeck's bases and capitals with similar details in other pavilions of the exposition demonstrate the distinctiveness of his approach.43 The other architects followed ancient prototypes more rigidly, as Maybeck also did when dealing with durable materials. An analysis of his other classical designs, such as the San Francisco Packard Showroom and Dealership and the Western Hills Cemetery, exemplifies his use of permanent materials.44
Maybeck received both commissions because of the success of the palace, and both projects were influenced by it. The Packard Showroom was completed in 1926. In the brochure published for the showroom's grand opening, the creative imagination of its architect was celebrated as a perfect complement of the glamorous luxury automobile business.45 Unlike the palace, whose color scheme was largely pale green, yellow, and red ocher, the dealership was richly polychrome, with its exterior details imitating shiny black-and-white marble.46 Accordingly, the exterior columns' bases and the capitals at the showroom were made of artificial stone, more expensive and durable than the plaster that was used for those details at the palace.47
The historical source for the Corinthian order of the showroom and the palace was the same. The column capitals closely resemble those in d'Espouy's drawings of the Temple of Mars Ultor.48 The proportions of the column bases and of the whole also approximate d'Espouy's reconstruction quite closely (Figure 9, see Figure 6). Interestingly, according to Woodbridge, in the case of the San Francisco dealership, Maybeck insisted that the edges of the details be executed in such a way that would not look "faded."49 This was quite different from the claylike appearance of the similar details of the palace.
Western Hills Cemetery (1940), an unrealized project for which Maybeck served as design architect with Julia Morgan as architect of record, also provides an opportunity for a comparison with the palace. The cemetery's site plan, which includes a crescent-shaped colonnade, a rotunda-like central structure, and a lagoon, reads as a variation on Maybeck's earlier success at the palace.50 The elevation studies and perspective views developed by the architect reinforce this perception, with several of the cemetery colonnade's details indicating the influence of the earlier project (Figure 10). However, the proportions of the columns are much more slender than those of the palace; in fact they are much more delicate than the conventional proportions of the Composite order, their height approximating twelve diameters.51
A pamphlet issued by the client may provide some clues for understanding the similarities and differences between the cemetery and the palace. The brochure acknowledges that the choice of the architect was governed by the long-ago success of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's most popular building, and it promises that the new cemetery complex will be of even "greater beauty."52 However, the authors of the pamphlet emphasize a major difference between the two projects—the cemetery ensemble was going to be made of enduring materials and its design would convey a sense of permanence.53 This crucial distinction between the temporary program of the palace and the endurance of the cemetery complex explains the slimmer proportions of the columns as an indication of more permanent materials.
The stagelike appearance of the palace and Maybeck's forthright engagement with the qualities of the inexpensive materials used in its construction were parts of a deliberate strategy. The design also appears to have attempted to preserve the expressive quality of the charcoal sketch, a medium that did not allow for a crisp representation. Significantly, many popular photographs of the palace were either nighttime shots—with masterful artificial illumination and the San Francisco fog contributing to a soft, low contrast image—or daytime photographs where the same effects were achieved by intentionally lowering the resolution of the image and applying color (see Figure 1).54 These poetically blurred images capture the mood of Maybeck's first sketch (which won him the commission), and show that its mood was discernible in the executed design.
Sketching in charcoal and soft pencil were important practices in Beaux-Arts architecture—even if it could generate unorthodox versions of the classical vocabulary. A comparison with the methods of other American architects at the turn of the century establishes the special character of Maybeck's work.
Methods of Turn-of-the-Century Architects
Monumental architecture entails an extraordinary amount of labor and would be impossible without a means of communicating designers' ideas to the executors. In the Western European tradition, drawing became the main instrument to serve this purpose at an early date.55 However, the systematic production of myriad working drawings did not become an integral part of architectural practice until the middle of the nineteenth century.56 In the United States their regular appearance emerged between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the second decade of the twentieth.57 This development took place as architecture was becoming fully professionalized, with the leaders of the new profession offering comprehensive services.58
The rise in the production of working drawings was quite dramatic, and architects were aware of the transformation that was taking place.59 Many of them reported that projects in the 1870s could be built based on a dozen modestly executed drawings and a few details but a few decades later the same projects would require contract sets consisting of hundreds of large sheets, accompanied by several thousand full-size templates.60 Turn-of-the-century American textbooks for aspiring architects reported a sharp increase in the number and the graphic quality of these documents.61
Architectural periodicals were major promoters of this new standard of architectural drawing production. The first American architectural magazines emerged in the late 1870s. 62 Few working drawings, however, were reproduced in the journals until the very late 1890s, when they began to appear in profusion. The Brickbuilder,Architectural Review (Boston), and (two decades later) Pencil Points played an especially significant role in disseminating the new model of practice.63 Magazines also gave unprecedented attention to other aspects of the conduct of day-to-day architectural activities—from the size of drawing sheets to the spatial organization of architects' offices.64 The new focus on production reflected profound changes in architectural professional ideology.65 The rigor of architectural professionalism was now judged by the architect's adherence to a standard design sequence, from the first ideas to a full set of working drawings, and eventually, to the built structure. This sequence was quite strictly prescribed.
Preliminary studies facilitated a transition from "embryonic sketches," to "designer's sketches," and, finally, to "development drawings."66 Development drawings were to be followed by working drawings which consisted of "general drawings"—also referred to as "the contract set"—"scale details," and "full size details."67 The contract set normally included site plans, floor plans, elevations, partial elevations, and wall sections—using the scales that are still the standard of the profession today. The recommended scale for floor plans, elevations, and sections varied from 1⁄8 inch to 1⁄4 inch to the foot. Wall sections and partial elevations were to be drawn in 3⁄4-inch scale.68 Worth noting is that the size of the drafting media changed during the first decades of the twentieth century. From the 1900s through the 1920s, every attempt was made to keep floor plans on a single sheet of linen, and to draw wall sections with as few break lines as possible—which lead to the use of very large pieces of drafting linen.69 Including mechanical and structural drawings, a contract set would consist of more than seventy sheets.70 Such a set was issued—along with specifications—as the basis for bidding, negotiating, and, eventually, signing a contract between the owner and a general contractor.71
Virtually all those who discussed early-twentieth-century architectural production methods stressed the same point: working drawings needed to be part of a seamless process that led from the first tentative, but expressive, sketches to the meticulous description of the building's most minute details. At the beginning of this process, a principal of the firm—"someone with a will to make a decision" as architect John Breiby would say—produced a sketch in a scale that, depending on the size of the building, could vary from 1⁄32 to 1⁄8 of an inch (Figure 11).72 While conveying minimal information to anyone outside the office, such a sketch gave a clear message to a lead designer, who would bring it to 1⁄4-inch scale and further develop it using soft pencil or charcoal (Figure 12). As the design progressed, the focus shifted to smaller details, using increasingly large scales, employing similar techniques, although executed by the office's junior employees.73
With each step, the process went through similar phases. First, 3⁄4-inch elevations and sections were drawn using hard-edged lines rendered in ink and pencil. Then "impressionistic" charcoal studies—a description used by some authors—were produced to explore the characteristics of smaller details. These drawings were then traced onto manila tracing paper using increasingly hard pencil, t-square, triangles, and compasses. The final versions were retraced with ink on large drafting linen sheets (Figure 13). Along with 1⁄4-inch- or 1⁄8-inch-scale floor plans, these constituted the majority of "general" working drawings.74
However, many more architectural drawings were produced after the contract set had been issued and often after the start of construction, as details that had been shown at 3-inch scale were further developed in full-size drawings. In large projects, the number of sheets constituting a contract set varied from just under a hundred to several hundred—depending on the size of the sheets. Large- and full-size details produced in the course of construction numbered in the thousands.75 These drawings went through the same process—first, an outline; second, charcoal value studies; finally, templates or large-scale detail drawings executed with great precision. This area of architects' service experienced some significant changes between the end of the nineteenth century and the second decade of the twentieth century. According to Edgerton Swartwout, in the 1880s, after having issued templates, architects had little control over the work of modelers.76 This changed in the 1910s, when a clause requiring modelers to produce two or even three consecutive models—upon architects' revisions and based on reissued templates—became a customary feature of general conditions. Architects often reviewed the modelers' work by studying photographs of the models that were made in modelers' shops, and by making pencil marks on these photographs.77
American architects of the day argued adamantly that clear communication between architect and builder should be the sole purpose of working drawings and full-size details. Harold Van Buren Magonigle, a prominent architect and frequent contributor to various architectural magazines, declared that the role of working drawings needed to be limited to convey "to the builder all information that is required for a given piece of work—no more and no less."78 He added that a set of general drawings should be "so condensed, yet so clear and readable that it is only necessary to hand it over to the contractor and tell him to build it. If it is a perfect drawing, he should not have to ask any questions."79 Swartwout, Magonigle's one-time coworker in the office of McKim, Mead and White, explained that "Working drawings have a practical value and are not works of art, it is evident that to fulfill the purpose for which they are made they must be complete, they must be intelligible to the dumbest mechanic, and they must be convenient to handle."80
However, the graphic excellence of these drawings clearly exceeds their "practical value."81 In fact, the same early-twentieth-century authors who categorically denied any artistic dimension to working drawings at times moderated their argument. "Scale drawing is perhaps the most interesting work the draftsman is called upon to perform" stated one of them.82 Immediately after discussing the objective and instrumental quality of large scale details, Swartwout contradicted himself and urged young architecture students to discover for themselves how "delightful" it was to apply charcoal to a piece of linen.83
Architect Cass Gilbert, who according to numerous sources took special pride in the graphic excellence of his working drawings, described the art of architectural draftsmanship as mediation between seeing and touching.84 He advised an aspiring architect, "Sketch mouldings and shapes of things by handling them as well as by looking at them, so that by feeling the contours of the moulding with the fingers you can determine the shape as well as by looking at it."85 R. C. Chapman, the author of several turn-of-the-century articles on working drawings, wrote that this process brought to draftsmen the sense of being "in touch with and sympathy for building."86 He continued: "In making a [working drawing] the designer should be mentally, if not actually, the craftsman also; the conditions and necessities of the material ever present to his mind; its very limitations suggesting new motives and simulating invention, as it never fails to do when the designer and craftsman are one."87
The fact that working drawings were portrayed alternately as neutral and purely practical devices and as products of an activity that brought pleasure, pride, and the intimacy of touch succumbs to various interpretations.88 Whatever the explanation, "joy in the act of drawing" was known to the authors of these articles—and to the majority of the profession.89 Stories about principals in well-established architectural offices who themselves engaged in the production of working drawings are another recurrent theme in these articles.90 Architects of such different backgrounds and creative philosophies as Swartwout, Henry Bacon, Cass Gilbert, and Louis Sullivan produced working drawings. Surely all of them shared the "pride in [their] skills and the pleasure that comes with the mastery of the craft."91 It was a byproduct of Beaux-Arts education, whose impact on architectural production transcended questions of style.92
In an article in Pencil Points that summarized the principles of Beaux-Arts training, architect John Harbeson focused on "the sketch problem." The key to success was to generate the first sketch quickly, capturing the character of the future building but without showing any detail. "The individual lines may not mean anything; but they must together, convey a meaning" he wrote about such initial sketches.93 He described the next steps in a way that clearly recalls the lesson that the young Maybeck received from père André. "[J]ump to [a larger] scale and go at it with charcoal again.. . . [Then] make studies on tracing paper over charcoal.. . . Use the rubber freely.. . . It is in these studies that you must try to express 'character.'" Subsequent work, as described by Harbeson, resembled earlier twentieth-century instructions for preparation of working drawings: "Carry this study as far as you can, then make another one over this, a little more carefully, but still with a great use of freehand, and then you'll be ready to transfer to the final [board]." The media—charcoal, pencil, and ink—applied to a transparent material such as tracing paper and linen, enabled architects to start with an ephemeral sketch and arrive at a minutely detailed and exact representation of a future building's materials and construction. This process could be compared to a sculptor transferring his design from clay to the more durable marble of the finished statue. The early studies of overall massing and composition required a malleable and docile medium that could be easily molded by hand. The final art possessed smaller details, which required the carving with hard steel chisels. The multi-stage transformation from the charcoal of early sketches to the intricate ink work of final working drawings enriched this type of architectural representation and gave draftsmen the sense of being "in touch with material."
In their critique of the Palace of Fine Arts, many authors assumed that Maybeck skipped steps in this process.94 They suspected that the unusual features resulted from bypassing the detailed studies needed to convert the initial sketch into the executed structure. If done to produce an ephemeral stage set, such shortcuts were deemed allowable. But they were considered unacceptable when designing permanent architecture.
Contrary to these assumptions, Maybeck designed the palace by faithfully following the process accepted by the profession as its standard. In fact, he devised many details while translating the charcoal and chalk of his earlier studies into the minute ink work of his final working drawings.
Working Drawings for the Palace
The famous charcoal sketch that won Maybeck the commission was produced in August 1912 (see Figure 3). By mid-September 1913, the general (or contract) drawings for the project were completed, and construction began immediately.95 The drawings developed between these two important milestones, as well as the additional full-size details and templates that were issued after the commencement of the work, followed the established process of the architectural profession. All the features that critics too easily dismissed as the accidental results of an unusually speedy design process in fact went through a long evolution. Paradoxically, earlier studies show that these earlier details were more conventional. The final design resulted from careful choice, not chance or haste.
The general shape of the art building, colonnade, and rotunda was determined by December 1912. The idea of the indirect approach to the main entrance was also developed during this early stage. In October Maybeck was still entertaining a number of options, such as entering the building after crossing the lagoon via a bridge or approaching it sideways.96 By December he made up his mind in favor of a more oblique path of travel toward the entrance. The final version, with no bridge, was worked out only during the construction. However, the concept of a convoluted approach to the entrance had emerged as the architect and his assistants started working on the building's details.
A number of surviving drawings from November and December 1912 focus on the view of the palace across the lagoon, using the 1⁄16-inch scale.97 Next, between early January and mid-February of the following year, 1⁄8-inch scale partial elevation studies were made of the building's most important elements, such as the rotunda and the ends of the colonnades.98 By the beginning of spring 1913, the office moved toward 3⁄4-inch scale drawings, continuing to study the orders of the colonnade, rotunda, and main entrances. All of these studies went through the same process. Rough line drawings were followed by pastel and charcoal value studies, which were later retraced with more precision using harder pencil. The studies of the main entrance, secondary entrances, and of a number of additional elements were executed according to similar procedures, from the designer's sketches to value studies to working drawings, and many of these carry Maybeck's written requests for additional studies. His instructions were followed faithfully, with some six to eight variations of some elements being developed.99 Much is seen in the evolution of these secondary details, and, in particular, the development of the Corinthian order of the colonnade and rotunda shows Maybeck coming to terms with the tectonics of a claylike material.
The earlier drawings, produced between late November 1912 and February 1913, depicted a Corinthian order that was quite similar to numerous interpretations found in treatises and collections of drawings from the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century. However, as the scale of the drawings became larger and the line work increasingly refined, the character of the details started to change. On earlier drawings, the height of the column's shafts was about 10 diameters, with the entablature measuring about 2 1⁄4 diameters—as recommended by the majority of theorists. Some of Maybeck's intermediate studies suggested even slenderer columns and different prototypes—probably influenced by additional consultations with d'Espouy's drawings (Figure 14; cf. Figure 6).100 The direction of his thought is also apparent from numerical notations indicating the diameters of columns' shafts. Thus a drawing signed on 13 January has notations indicating his hesitation between a diameter of 5 feet 6 inches (which was shown in the final working drawings) and a more delicately proportioned 5 feet 4 inches (see Figure 14).101 The very medium of this and other studies—soft pencil and charcoal—conveys a moody impression. The final design, recorded in the working drawing, clearly reflects the tectonic characteristics of a structural material with low resistance to compression. This is expressed in the 1:8 proportions of the columns—which drew the criticism of purists—and the increased size of the entablature.
Smaller details went through a similar evolution. Column bases on earlier drawings are much taller than in the final design. A drawing dated 10 February 1913 shows such a taller base, with an intricate bead between two scotias (Figure 15). But as the design progressed, the height of the base decreased, the middle bead was omitted, and the projection of the lower torus became more articulated—altogether contributing to the overall feeling of a flatter, less massive base (Figure 16). The final design shows lower plinth, which made the base look even smaller (cf. Figures 7, 15, 16).
The fluting of the column shafts went through the same development. On the drawings from late January and early February, the flutes are traditional semicircular concavities (see Figure 15). In subsequent months their depth decreased, and the final design was a half oval formed around two tangent circles, approximating d'Espouy's rendition of the flutes at the Erechtheum (see Figure 8). However, this design decision was likely prompted by an additional consideration. The architect started rethinking the conventional shape of the fluting while designing the furring that was to support the lath and plaster of the column (Figure 17). The design was not dictated by the physical limitations of the construction technology. The structure of the columns would not prevent making the fluting half-circular; and semicircular flutes were in fact the norm in most exhibition pavilions from this time period. Maybeck made the fluting shallower, and by doing so, revealed more of the coarse texture of plaster of the columns. His intention was developed in a series of studies that explored an increasingly shallow concavity.
Maybeck's drawings went through all the phases that were expected from a professional architect designing a permanent structure. However, in the case of the majority of turn-of-the-twentieth-century projects, lively sketches, followed by crisp drawings, led to yet crisper built objects. In the case of Maybeck's palace, the precise drawings guided the construction of a building that retained the impressionistic qualities of the charcoal sketch and the untreated edge of a clay model.
This attitude is clearly discernible in the full-scale templates and in the making of full-size models for the most important elements, including the column capitals of the colonnade and the rotunda. Their design started during the late stages of the production of working drawings and was finished when the project was well into the construction phase. The working drawings and earlier 3⁄4-inch scale studies demonstrate that by September 1913, Maybeck intended to imbue his design with the feeling of a less sturdy material than stone. This is seen in his reinterpretation of the capital from the Choragic Monument of Lysikrates; his version is more massive, providing a larger area to support the weight of the entablature (Figure 18, cf. Figure 7). As the project moved past the phase of general drawings, toward the production of full-size templates, a new approach was developed. This continued the search for a cruder appearance—but was based on different techniques and derived from different sources. It becomes evident when charcoal studies are compared to the Corinthian capital of the temple of Castor and Pollux from d'Espouy—which was a major inspiration in the beginning of this stage of the design process.102 Maybeck's very first full-size charcoal sketch was typically soft and allusive (Figure 19). Although intermediate full-size studies did not completely capture that quality, the executed capital clearly did (Figures 20, 21).
Photographs of full-size models of these capitals are further evidence of Maybeck's way of working. By the time these models were executed, the architect had already gone a long way toward expressing the visual quality of a malleable and coarse material. And yet, the pencil marks on some of these photographs—which were intentionally overexposed to allow for such marking—indicate that at this stage of the design, Maybeck was searching for yet softer and cruder shapes (Figure 22).103 A highly detailed template, seen hanging on the wall of the shop, indicates that Maybeck took great care to achieve these qualities, recalling the remark that architectural historian Edward Ford made about Arts and Crafts architects' working drawings. Ford concluded that those architects preferred "to specify precisely how the imprecision is to be achieved instead of leaving it to a craftsman" (see Figure 22).104 In the case of Maybeck's project for the palace, this paradox was especially poignant, since Arts and Crafts sensibility was being applied to classical forms. The outcome was influenced by the architect's use of pastel and charcoal, the media best suited to explore the tectonic characteristics of plaster. Unexpectedly, as the drawn lines became increasingly precise, the design increasingly captured the freshness of the soft pencil sketch. Clay modeling, charcoal drawing, and the temporary essence of the building were kindred contributors to the design.
This analysis, based on the sequence of drawings, their media, and the character of architectural details they depict, is neither confirmed nor refuted by Maybeck's accounts of his creative methods. The few pieces of writing about the palace that he left behind are notoriously vague and convoluted. If they do point to any interpretation of his unorthodox style, it would be that he attempted to reconcile Greek and Roman antiquity.105 It should be also said that Maybeck used charcoal and pastel to study details made of materials other than plaster.106 However, many of the studies drawn in these media carry evidence of the architect's desire to make details look as if they were molded by his own hand. In some cases, this was expressed quite directly. For example, a drawing for the carved wooden consoles of the organ in Earle Anthony's Los Angeles residence is accompanied by a note indicating that the final model was going to be supplied by the architect. This was a full-size pencil line drawing, developed after a series of charcoal sketches. Another charcoal sketch for the same project, showing a wrought- iron grill, has a note requiring "hand wrought appearance as per sketch."107
The recollections of historians who interviewed Maybeck provide additional evidence. They coincide in confirming that Maybeck loved charcoal and soft pencil because those media simulated "a sculptor working in clay."108 He believed that the beautiful architectural drawings were meaningful as long as architects were not afraid of "messing them up" by "smudging" them with charcoal and soft pencil. Apparently, the importance of "the thickness of a line" was among the most lasting lessons from his patron André.109
In the 1920s, Maybeck developed an even stronger preference for the use of charcoal and pastel in making designs.110 His growing fascination with this medium can be interpreted in the context of his interest in concrete and Gunite, which developed at this time.111 Although these two construction methods could produce a variety of textures, as noted by Robert Craig, early-twentieth-century architects who developed an interest in reinforced concrete construction were often inspired by its plasticity and coarse appearance.112 One such designer, amateur architect Henry Chapman Mercer, was especially intrigued by the possibility that concrete buildings could retain the look of the "crude clay models" produced in the course of design and construction.113
Of course, Maybeck was not always satisfied with the temporary nature of his buildings. According to Craig, he was unwilling to compromise the structural integrity of his work at Principia College, even in the case of those buildings that the college "had no desire to maintain as a permanent part of the group."114 This led to some tension between the architect and his client. The claylike appearance of his designs for Principia, therefore, should probably not be seen as an expression of their shorter duration. His consistent effort to soften the edges of buildings and their details at Principia was guided principally by his desire to simulate the effect of aging.115 However, his design approach at Principia could still be interpreted as an evocation of the impermanent thatch and wood of Elizabethan vernacular architecture, which was the main historic source of his design.
Significantly, "The Sketch Quality of Building" was the title of the article in which critic William Lee Woollett discussed the design at Principia.116 A careful examination of the deformations in any building, explained Woollett, reveals the effects of stresses applied to its structural materials. He further argued that due to "the uneven character of building materials," the true expression of these forces in architecture necessarily entailed a softening of the outlines of details, making the building look more like a sketch. "We all know the charm of. . . a pencil sketch," he wrote, "as compared with the hard line of. . . an architectural drawing."117 Woollett concluded that the "sketch quality" of Maybeck's designs for Principia reflected his ability to preserve the charm of sketches in the finished buildings, all the while truthfully reflecting the play of structural forces. Fifteen years earlier, Woollett had made another important connection between unevenness of building forms and the temporary character of a building, defending the unorthodox proportions of the Palace of Fine Arts as appropriate through its affinity with a stage set and the perishable materials of which it was made.118 Like Maybeck, Woollett knew the "joy in the act of drawing." He fully appreciated that the "sketch quality" of the palace was a reflection of the temporary nature of this project.
The project of the Palace of Fine Arts has been reduced by some to a "folly," an odd Beaux-Arts foray by a recognized master of Arts and Crafts architecture.119 Others dismissed the structure as a crude mockup that violated the rules of classical architecture.120 In fact, it displayed the best of both sources of Maybeck's inspiration—Beaux-Arts and Arts and Crafts—combined as a poetic reflection on the fleeting nature of human creation. Perhaps Reyner Banham's recognition of these qualities lead him to conclude, "I went to see it more or less on a 'duty' list of San Francisco monuments and was staggered by an impact, comparable to that of the Basilica of Maxentius."
The palace was a distinctive case, in which the charcoal and pastel with which the building was sketched resonated with the construction material and the building's temporary character. Maybeck's appreciation of the "sketch building" was captured and fully developed in the hard line of working drawings. As R. C. Chapman wrote, the "limitations" of Maybeck's media of representation—paired with the ephemeral nature of this project—led him to "new motives and. . . inventions."121
The research on which this article is based began in the context of my doctoral dissertation. I would like to thank Dana Cuff for her invaluable guidance as my PhD advisor and for her continuous generous contributions to my work past the completion of my dissertation. I would also like to thank Waverly B. Lowell, the curator of Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley, for her insights about Maybeck's drawings; and assistant curator Miranda Hambro and former assistant curator Carrie McDade for their help during my research of Maybeck Collection. I am grateful to David Brownlee for his encouraging and detailed critique of the manuscript at various stages of its development. I would also thank Adolf Bruk for his help with photographing Maybeck's buildings in San Francisco. Finally I would like to thank Quynh Nguyen for her generous help in editing this article.
Reyner Banham, "The Plot against Bernard Maybeck," in JSAH 43, no. 1 (March 1984), 33–37.
Among historians "culpable" of a "plot" against Maybeck, Banham mentioned John Ely Burchard and Albert Bush-Brown (The Architecture of America [Boston: Little, Brown, 1961]); James Marston Fitch (American Buildings [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1948]); Leland Roth (A Concise History of American Architecture [New York: Harper & Row, 1979]); Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper (American Architecture, 1607–1976 [Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1981]). Banham never discussed contributions such as Esther Mc Coy, Five California Architects (New York: Reinhold, 1960) or Richard Longstreth, On the Edge of the World: Four Architects in San Francisco at the Turn of the Century (New York: Architectural History Foundation, 1983), which had been published just before his article. Banham also thought that Kenneth Cardwell's analysis in his Bernard Maybeck: Artisan, Architect, Artist (Santa Barbara: Peregrine Smith, 1977) did not do justice to the palace, in spite of Cardwell's overall positive assessment of the project. However, Banham set asides Vincent Scully's American Architecture and Urbanism (New York: Praeger, 1969), and William Jordy's American Buildings and Their Architects (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972). Jordy's analysis indeed goes beyond any other attempt to discuss the palace—even if my own research shows that he was mistaken in some of his assumptions.
An expression such as "vanished grandeur" was used by Maybeck himself in the essay that he wrote for one of the official booklets of the exposition. See Bernard Maybeck, Palace of Fine Arts and the Lagoon, intro. Frank Morton Todd (San Francisco: Paul Elder, 1915). The essay is quoted in length in various scholarly works dedicated to the palace.
See, for example, Sally Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck: Visionary Architect (New York: Abbeville Press, 1992); Dianne Harris, Maybeck's Landscapes: Drawing in Nature (San Francisco: William Stout, 2004); and Robert Craig, Bernard Maybeck at Principia College: The Art and Craft of Building (Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2004). Harris's and Craig's discussions of the palace, however brief, are important as they depart from the tradition of judging this project as a less important part of Maybeck's architectural legacy. Craig's excellent account of Maybeck's work at the Principia College reads, in particular, as a rebuttal of the opinion expressed by a number of historians, including Jordy, American Buildings and Their Architects, and Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 58, that the architect's late projects became increasingly sentimental and nostalgic, lacking the rigor and structural honesty present in his earlier work.
Maybeck went to Paris in 1881, at the age of nineteen, originally to continue his apprenticeship as a furniture maker. He became enthralled with architecture and, after successfully passing examinations, entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1882. He enrolled in the atelier of Jules-Louis André, where H. H. Richardson had studied twenty years earlier, and he completed his studies there in 1886.
Several of Maybeck's competition entries—such as those for Oakland Public Library (1900), the University of California Hospital (1903), and San Francisco City Hall (1912)—followed the Beaux-Arts approach. However, none of these projects was executed, and could be hardly considered as an important part of his architectural legacy.
Maybeck scholars argue that in spite of the affinity of his earlier projects with architecture of the Arts and Crafts movement, his approach was too individual and intuitive to be confined within any artistic style of the time. They also report that Maybeck did not appreciate the latest examples of Art Nouveau and Secessionist architecture, to which he was introduced during his European tour in 1897–98 (Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 43; Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 77). However, the influence from John Ruskin and William Morris's theories on Maybeck's early projects is also widely acknowledged. Woodbridge in particular states that Maybeck interest in these theories brought him close to Charles Keeler and some other influential thinkers in San Francisco Bay Area; Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 24, 26.
McCoy, Five California Architects, Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, Longstreth, On the Edge of the World; Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, Harris, Maybeck's Landscapes, and Graig, Bernard Maybeck at Principia, stress the fact that Maybeck was influenced by Viollet-le-Duc's and Semper's theories. Cardwell, Longstreth, and Woodbridge believe that Semper's theory produced on the young Maybeck even a stronger impact than that of Viollet, pointing to the fact that Maybeck contemplated translating Semper's Der Stil into English. Craig, especially in his chapter one, emphasizes deep connections between Viollet's writing and Maybeck's design philosophy.
As well known, Sullivan tended to dismiss the importance of his year at MIT, where he studied from1872 to 1873, and his year at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His negative attitude toward the institution and its philosophy was expressed in a number of his writings, especially in his Autobiography of an Idea (New York: Press of the American Institute of Architects, 1924). And yet, as historians Mario Manieri Elia (Louis Henry Sullivan, 1856–1924, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996, 16) and David Van Zanten (The Function of Ornament: The Architecture of Louis Sullivan, ed. Wim de Wit [New York: Chicago Historical Society and the Saint Louis Art Museum in association with W.W. Norton, 1986]) argue, Sullivan owed the Ecole much more than he was willing to admit. As historian Edward Bosley reported in his Greene & Greene (London: Phaidon, 2000), 12, Henry and Charles Greene were known to make statements that diminished the importance of their Beaux-Arts education at MIT. However, Bosley also noted that later in their lives both Charles and Henry spoke quite warmly of their Beaux-Arts training and admitted that it influenced their approach to the profession of architecture.
Maybeck remained appreciative of his experience at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts throughout his career. As one example, his trip to Europe in 1897 was planned to get input on the subject of the competition for the UC Berkeley master plan from experts in Beaux-Arts architecture such as Julien Gaudet, whom Maybeck knew from his studies at the Ecole.
Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 19, and McCoy, Five California Architects, 2, cited a taped interview with Robert Schultz, for radio station KPFA in Berkeley, Feb. 1953. Cardwell and Frederick D. Nichols discussed the same event based on their respective personal communications with Maybeck. See Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 17–18 and Nichols's "A Visit with Bernard Maybeck," JSAH 11, no. 3 (Sept. 1952), 30–31. According to Woodbridge, it was Enrico Ristori who, upon André's remark, showed the young Maybeck how "to study" details. Ristori was an older student in the atelier who later became Maybeck's close friend. In Cardwell's, McCoy's, and Nichols's versions, André himself "smudged" Maybeck's neat drawing.
Quoted from Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 19. It should be noted that in some of his other interviews, Maybeck spoke about "lines" in reference to silhouettes of buildings and particular details (Craig, Bernard Maybeck at Principia, 11). Significantly, he made these statements while arguing that it was through this use of lines that an architect can achieve a mood comparable to that one finds in easel painting.
See "Draftsmanship," Pencil Points 4, no. 4 (April 1923), 11.
A major bid to host a fair celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal came from the city of San Diego. While losing the bid for an international exposition, San Diego's representatives convinced the Congress to support a smaller event initially called the Panama-California Exposition. Because of its longer duration and because of World War I, which prevented the return of several European exhibits to their countries from San Francisco, San Diego's fairs ended up hosting a number of international pavilions. It led to changing its title to Panama-California International Exposition. See Matthew Bokovoy, The San Diego World's Fairs and Southwestern Memory, 1880–1940 (Albuquerque: University of Mexico Press, 2005), 17–27, for a history of San Diego's and San Francisco's competing bids to stage a World's Fair.
Keith L. Eggener, in his "Maybeck's Melancholy: Architecture, Empathy, Empire, and Mental Illness at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition," Winterthur Portfolio 29 (Winter 1994), 211–26, gives an unusual interpretation of such terms as "melancholy" and "mood." These expressions were frequently used in Maybeck's essay "Palace of Fine Arts and Lagoon," and were repeated by many contemporaries and several architectural historians. Eggener reports that early-twentieth-century psychologists such as Henry Maudsley considered melancholy to be a serious mental illness that was unique to "progressive societies." He further argues that Maybeck's design for the palace—part of an exposition celebrating the advance of the industrialized world—acknowledged the "uneasy alliance. . . between progress and disorder" (225).
Initially, the architectural board was headed by Polk and also included San Francisco Bay Area architects John Galen Howard, Albert Pissis, William Curlett, and Clarence R. Ward. The board was dissolved after the establishment of the executive council composed of Polk, Ward, and W. B. Favil. The council was in charge of awarding major commissions for the exposition and was also dissolved after making these decisions. G. W. Kelham was acting as exposition's chief of architecture after the work on preliminary designs had begun. See John D. Barry's official guide to the exposition, The City of Domes: A Walk with an Architect about the Courts and Palaces of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with a Discussion of Its Architecture, Its Sculpture, Its Mural Decorations, Its Coloring, and Its Lighting, Preceded by a History of Its Growth (San Francisco: John J. Newbegin, 1915), 16.
During this period Maybeck found himself out of commissions and on the brink of poverty. He was hired as draftsman in Polk's office following his wife Annie's plea to give him any job (McCoy, Five California Architects, 37–38). For a concise summary of the competition in Polk's office and his promotion of Maybeck as the designer of the palace see Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 101. She reports, among other things, that Polk's gesture combined generosity with considerations of a less altruistic nature. She states that Polk became disillusioned with the site. She also believes that Polk was too busy to carry out the design of the palace by himself. As historian Mary Woods states, the leaders of the profession at the turn of the twentieth century were capable of generous gestures directing commissions to the most gifted draftsmen among their employees and other promising young architects—even if this generosity at times was superseded by cold business calculations. See Mary Woods, From Craft to Profession: The Practice of Architecture in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1999: 145); and Alexander Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices: The Art and Craft of Architectural Representation," PhD diss., UCLA, 2005), chap. 4, for additional facts supporting the argument.
Frank Morton Todd, The Story of the Exposition: The Official History of the International Celebration Held in San Francisco in 1915 to Commemorate the Discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the Construction of the Panama Canal (New York: Putnam's, 1921) 1: 303–4.
See for example Katherine Delmar Burke, Storied Walls of the Exposition (San Francisco: self published, 1915), 2, who wrote that the palace was "dream-like—haunting in its beauty."
Louis Christian Mullgardt, the architect of the Court of Ages of the Exposition, a major Panama-Pacific International Exposition's complex, wrote in his essay dedicated to this project: "Phantom Kingdoms. . . They germinate and grow with phenomenal energy. Their existence is established without conquest and their magic growth is similar to the mushroom and the moonflower; they vanish like setting suns in their own radiance." See Louis C. Mullgardt, The Architecture and Landscape Gardening of the Exposition (San Francisco: P. Elder, 1915) vi, cited in Robert J. Clark, "Louis Christian Mullgardt and the Court of the Ages," JSAH 21, no. 4 (Dec. 1962), 172–78.
In 1915 William Lee Woollett, a California architect with an experience in the design of temporary pavilions, contributed a number of articles specifically dedicated to PPIE in Architectural Record. He wrote about the Palace of Fine Arts in an article entitled "Scene Painting in Architecture," Architectural Record 38 (July–Dec. 1915), 571–74.
An example of such critique was a speech by historian John D. Berry. See Transactions of Meetings from January 1915 to January 1916 (San Francisco: Commonwealth Club of California, 1916), 386. The speech is partially cited by Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 149.
Woollett, "Scene Painting in Architecture," 574.
The juxtaposition of scenographic effects of a temporary building with the reality of a permanent structure goes back to American architectural critic Montgomery Schuyler's famous essay, "Last Words about the World's Fair" in American Architecture and Other Writing, ed. William H. Jordy and Ralph Coe (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1961). Schuyler's conditional approval of the Chicago World's Fair came with a caution: "The world of facts" needs to be approached in a different way than "the world of dreams." See Schuyler, "Last Words," 573.
See Elizabeth Edwards Harris, "The Palace of Fine Arts: Monumental Meaning," MA thesis, UCLA,1994, for a detailed discussion of the debates for and against the preservation of the palace as a permanent structure after the exposition's closure and in the 1950s. Architect John Galen Howard, who was a prominent figure in San Francisco's AIA chapter, was among the most vocal opponents of the palace's preservation after the exposition's closure. Howard based his opposition on the grounds of the palace's temporary nature which, according to him, equaled to less restrained design as well as to a less stable structure. Some of the city's prominent building contractors who opposed the idea of palace's preservation also voiced the same arguments. See Harris, "The Palace of Fine Arts," 43–46.
The structure of the palace suffered especially heavy damage between 1941 and 1947, when the building was used by the United States Army. For a brief history of the palace between the late 1910s and the early 1960s see Ruth Newhall, San Francisco's Enchanted Palace (Berkeley: Howell-Norton Books, 1967).
See ibid. for the most complete—albeit somewhat overly enthusiastic—history of the efforts to save and eventually to restore the palace. See Harris, "The Palace of Fine Arts," for a more critical view of the same events.
Quoted from Harris, "The Palace of Fine Arts," 74.
Jordy stated that "the [p]alace is unabashedly scenographic" (American Buildings and Their Architects, 288). Also see his conclusive remarks about the project (ibid., 300).
Jordy stated that Maybeck's design was "arbitrary," that it "happened without premises." He believed that the scenographic quality of the project amounted to "perversity," ibid., 276, 288.
The site plan in the final set of working drawings (reproduced in Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck) shows two curvilinear bridges crossing the lagoon. The bridges were eliminated during the construction, based on the general contractor's suggestion, and in order to reduce the cost. Maybeck enthusiastically supported this proposal. In various comments, recorded by a number of historians, he invariably mentioned this last-minute change as a great contribution to the project's success. See ibid., 142, and Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 109. Cardwell suggested that the bridges were introduced against Maybeck's vision, and that by making them curvilinear the architect hoped to partially delay the approach to the rotunda.
As one example, Jordy's discussion of the site plan is limited to the Beaux-Arts origins of Maybeck's principles of space making, not on his subversion of one of the major aspects of the Beaux-Arts' tradition. See his American Buildings and Their Architects, 290–93. Woodbridge mentions the paradox, however she dismisses it as the architect's oversight; Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 106.
A number of critics framed their analysis in terms of two separate experiences. Barry described the palace in two separate chapters: "The Palace of Fine Arts from across the Lagoon," and "The Palace of Fine Arts at Close Range" (see The City of Domes, 66–68 and 71–73). Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, and Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, discuss the project in similar terms. Barry also reports that Maybeck himself explained that he was trying to make the approach to the palace "long and circuitous." However, it seems that, along with his dichotomy of the palace at close range versus the palace from the distance, Maybeck's design also emphasized the contrast between the interior versus the exterior. "the inside of the palace" versus "the outside of the palace."
Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 98.
The drawing can be seen on the Online Archive of California website, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf0k400160/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010).
The main thesis of Gottfried Semper's theory states that architecture could be understood in terms of the four primordial and irreducible elements: frame, enclosure, mound, and hearth. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the exterior walls usually supported the loads from the upper floors and ceiling, Semper's concept that fabric was the origin of the wall constituted the most provocative aspect of his argument. It meant that rather than load-bearing structural element, the wall should be conceived as a skin independent of the frame supporting the roof. See Gottfried Semper, The Four Elements of Architecture and Other Writings, trans. Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann, intro. Harry Francis Mallgrave (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
Woodbridge made this observation while mentioning Otto Wagner's Interimskirche (temporary church), built in 1905 (Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 79). Historians Heinz Geretsegger and Max Peinter state that Interimskirche was indeed heavily influenced by Maybeck's design of Hearst Hall (1898): Heinz Geretsegger and Max Peintner, Otto Wagner, 1841–1918: The Expanding City, The Beginning of Modern Architecture, intro. Richard Neutra, trans. Gerald Onn (London: Pall Mall Press, 1970), 14.
The quotation is from Jordy, American Buildings and Their Architects, 284. Jordy also suggested that the "crudity" might have resulted from the less than usual degree of the architect's ability to enforce his own ideas. He further argued that the palace forestalled Maybeck's later period, when, according to Jordy, he became more interested in "scenographic splendor" and less preoccupied with "competent execution."
According to Barry (The City of Domes, 21), all major pavilions of the exposition were to imitate travertine marble. He praised engineer Paul Denneville (whose earlier achievements included a special plaster mix used in the interiors of Pennsylvania Station in New York) for being able to devise a mix that made the appearance of the plaster almost indistinguishable from the marble.
Barry specifically stated that the quality of Denneville's plaster allowed the avoidance of "broken and ragged surfaces" (Barry, The City of Domes, 21).
A number of Maybeck scholars emphasize his dedication to the truthful representation of construction materials, often in the context of their discussion of his debt to Viollet-le-Duc's theory. See Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 58, 73. Woodbridge quotes Charles Keeler, who embraced young architect's design philosophy because "Maybeck detested 'sham, veneers, and things done for sheer effect. If the material used was wood, it should look like wood, not stone'" (Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 24). In fact, the relatively cool reception of the palace was partially due to perception that in this project—a pastiche over light wood and metal frame—Maybeck moved away from the ideal of structural honesty. In this respect, an interesting insight could be found in McCoy's analysis. She also admired Maybeck's honest treatment of wood (McCoy, Five California Architects, 11, 15). However, she also noticed that Maybeck developed a similar approach to plaster. She mentioned Maybeck's experimentations with this material as an attempt to use it in an innovative and honest way, not merely as a cheap substitute for stone (ibid., 13, 18).
Maybeck openly admitted this deviation from the dogma in his typewritten manuscript "The Palace of Fine Arts," Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, Bernard Maybeck Collection; see also Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 102–6, for excerpts from this manuscript. In this manuscript Maybeck states that he reduced the height of his columns to eight diameters from eleven diameters (cited from ibid., 106). Interestingly, such sources as Palladio and Vignola suggested Corinthian columns to be ten diameters high. In other words, Maybeck thought he had deviated from the canon even further than for what he was criticized. He might have thought so because some of his sources—such as plates from Hector d'Espouy's Fragments d'architecture antique d'apr̀s les relev́s & restaurations des anciens pensionnaires de l'Acad́mie de France à Rome (Paris: C. Schmid, 1890), depicting the Temples of Mars Ultor and of Castor and Pollux—show slender proportions of the columns.
Maybeck was accused of uncritical use of various elements found in d'Espouy's album (see Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 146). A number of his tracings as well as the design of vases show that d'Espouy was indeed a major source of his reference. I believe that d'Espouy's renderings of the Temple of Mars Ultor was among Maybeck's prototypes because of a surviving drawing showing a very close tracing of d'Espouy's original. The drawing could be seen on the website of Online Archive of California, Maybeck Collection, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf7h4nb2zp/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010).
To compare Maybeck's approach to the classical vocabulary with that of other architects of the Panama-Pacific International exposition, see Online Archive of California, Photographs of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. See, specifically, the Palace of Machinery (Ward & Blohme, architects), http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf238nb374/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010); and the Court of the Four Seasons (Henry Bacon, architect), http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf0k40063v/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010); and http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf5489p2cb/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010).
Maybeck's other executed Beaux-Arts projects included Phoebe Hearst Memorial Gymnasium for Women (1925–27). However, according multiple sources, Julia Morgan was in charge of the production phase of the gymnasium, while Maybeck's participation was minimal. See Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 87. Cardwell mentioned specifically that in this project many details were closely copied from a historic precedent without transforming these details into Maybeck's "personal ornamental patterns." See Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 199.
See Earl C. Anthony, A Saga of Transportation (San Francisco: Packard Building, 1927).
The colored sketches of Van Ness Street elevation of the dealership could be seen on the website of Online Archive of California, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf509nb0v8/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June, 2010).
See specifications for Anthony–Packard San Francisco Showroom and for PPIE—Palace of Fine Arts (Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, Bernard Maybeck Collection, IV. 23, and VI. 4).
One of Maybeck's early studies for the capitals of the palace consisted of a tracing of the d'Espouy's renderings of the Temple of Mars Ultor. See note 42, above, and see Maybeck's drawing on the website of Online Archive of California, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf7h4nb2zp/?brand=oac4 (accessed 29 June 2010). In fact, the design of the capitals of the Packard dealership closely resembles d'Espouy's drawing and Maybeck's tracing.
Woodbridge, Bernard Maybeck, 182.
The site plan of the cemetery can be seen on the website of Online Archive of California, http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ceda/ucb/images/eda00000303_21a_k.jpg (accessed 29 June 2010). I am grateful to Waverly Lowell, the curator of Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley, for bringing my attention to this project.
The architect's marks on other sketches for the project indicate his search for even more elongated proportions of the columns (Western Hills Cemetery, Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley; Julia Morgan Collection).
See the manuscript of Preliminary Prospect of Western Hills of Memorial City, Inc., Lawndale, California, Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, Julia Morgan Collection III-17.
The intention to use durable materials for the Western Hills Cemetery complex is expressed throughout the text of the Prospect. First, it criticizes existing cemeteries as "dilapidated. . . and neglected," and states the need for a structure of a more enduring character. It also states the ambition to surpass the Palace of Fine Arts in beauty in the same sentence as it acknowledges that, as an exhibition pavilion, the palace had been designed as a temporary structure. The Prospect also discusses the issue of permanence in the two of the four "prime requirements" of its "General Scheme": "2nd—That it shall be permanent both structurally and in the sense that its beauty, importance, and interest will make it inviolated (sic) against molestation in any manner.. . . 4th—That it shall be of a type that will not only endure, but increase in charm and interest with age."
The nighttime photograph of the palace was selected by Maybeck to open his essay, published as a booklet, Palace of Fine Arts and Lagoon. It was also one of several nighttime or foggy-day photographs of the palace reproduced in Todd, Story of the Exposition. Other nighttime photographs of the palace have been included in several others essays, including those by Jordy and Cardwell.
See Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," 91–142, for an introductory history of architectural construction documentation from the late Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century.
My research convinced me that while occasional working drawings had been produced during earlier periods, as a standard practice they did not emerged until the middle of the nineteenth century. Ibid., 132–42.
This statement does not mean that no working drawing was produced in America before this time period. Benjamin Latrobe's collection, for example, contains a number of working drawings and full-size details. See The Architectural Drawings of Benjamin Henry Latrobe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). The drawings produced by the Office of the Supervising Architect as early as in the 1830s were also quite impressive. See Bates Lowry, Building a National Image: Architectural Drawings for American Democracy, 1789–1912 (Washington, D. C.: National Building Museum, 1985). Furthermore, the notable increase in the production of working drawings occurred between the 1850s and the 1870s. For one example, see Judith Hull, "The 'School of Upjohn': Richard Upjohn's Office," in JSAH 52, no. 3 (September 1993), 281–306, who showed that during this period Upjohn significantly increased his attention to working drawings. However, Alfred Halse, "A History of the Development of Architectural Drafting Techniques," PhD diss, New York University, 1952, identified the end of the nineteenth century as the time period during which the volume and character of working drawings increased especially dramatically. A number of late-nineteenth to early-twentieth-century architects also indicated, in their recollections, great changes that occurred in the course of their careers See note 59, below.
Leading American sociologist Robert Gutman conceptualized the term "comprehensive architectural services" as opposed to services that emphasize the artistic aspect of architecture. Comprehensive services privilege the architect's role as the owner's agent and include coordination of consultants and construction administration. See Robert Gutman, Architectural Practice: A Critical View (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1988), 37. Gutman argued that the AIA made a decisive move toward advocating such services around 1900. For professionalization of architecture, see Mary Woods, From Craft to Profession.
See, for example, Robert D. Andrews, "Conditions of Architectural Practice Thirty Years Ago and More," Architectural Review (Boston), 11 (Nov. 1917), 237–38; and Harold Van Buren Magonigle, "Some Suggestions as to the Making of Working Drawings," Brickbuilder 22 (May 1913), 99. Both Magonigle and Andrews interpreted these changes as results of new construction techniques and materials, revolutionary changes in environmental control systems, and increased size and complexity of buildings. Historian Diana Balmori also argued that late-nineteenth-century architect George Post increased the production of working drawings in order to transform his practice into a profitable business. See her "George B. Post: The Process of Design and the New American Architectural Office (1868–1913)," JSAH 46, no. 4 (Dec. 1987), 342–55. The development of paper-making machines made paper cheaper and available in large sizes; see Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," 148–50 for its influence on the practice of architecture. However, a number of historians also mentioned—if only in passing—that the volume and graphic elegance of working drawings produced by well-established offices could hardly be explained solely by practical factors. See, among others, Charles. E. Brownell et al., The Making of Virginia Architecture (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1992). More recently, see Mary Beth Betts, "From Sketch to Architecture: Drawings in the Cass Gilbert Office," in Inventing the Skyline: The Architecture of Cass Gilbert, ed. Margaret Heilbrun (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).
See Woods, From Craft to Profession, 121.
See, for example, Cyclopedia of Architecture, Carpentry and Building, a comprehensive textbook in ten volumes covering all aspects of the standard curriculum in architectural schools of the day. While discussing working drawings, it stated that "the character of [working] drawings has changed very much, even in the last few years, an astonishing amount of details being put into working drawings, while architectural drawings of the English and Italian Renaissance show that the old masters must have studied much of their details while the building was being erected." See F. A. Bourne and H. V. von Holst, "Architectural Drawing, part II," in Cyclopedia of Architecture, Carpentry and Building (Chicago: American Technical Society, 1907), 6: 314.
The first American architectural magazine, The Architect's and Mechanic's Journal, began publication in 1859, but it had to be closed in 1861. A few other short-lived magazines followed until the emergence of American Architect and Building News in 1876, which lasted until 1938. See Mary Woods, "The First American Architectural Journals: The Profession's Voice," JSAH 48, no. 2 (June 1989), 117–38.
An editorial in Pencil Points stated that "a great deal of benefit can be derived from an exchange of methods, ideas and experiences on [the subject of drafting room practices] through the medium of Pencil Points." Pencil Points 4, no. 4 (April 1923), 11.
The first articles discussing the organization of architects' offices were published in the early 1890s. See "City Architect's Office" Inland Architect 15 (July 1890); and the thirty-nine-part editorial feature "Management of an Architect's Office," American Architect and Building News 33–39 (Aug. 1891–Jan. 1893). Architectural magazines gave attention to this subject throughout the 1890s to the 1910s. See a two-part article by D. Everett Waid, "How Architects Work" in Brickbuilder 20 (1911), 249–52, and 21 (1912), 7–10, 35–38; and his three-part series "The Business Side of an Architect's Office," Brickbuilder 22 (1913), 179–81, and 23 (1914), 47–49, 62–64. Besides articles on the subject of working drawings cited below, numerous articles were dedicated to specification writing, accounting, and similar subjects in virtually every issue of Pencil Points in the 1920s.
See Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," esp. chap. 4, for a discussion of how many working drawings of ca. 1900 were produced for purposes of aesthetics, pedagogy, and etiquette. The dissertation's theoretical framework is influenced by the notion of ideology as developed by French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, whose Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986) argues that ideology performs a number of roles, from preserving the status quo to giving the feeling of purpose in everyday life and inspiring agents to strive for excellence.
Even though the first edition of the Handbook of Architectural Practice (Washington, DC: Press of the American Institute of Architects, 1920) differentiates only between presentation drawings, "preliminary studies," and working drawings, several turn-of-the-century magazine articles mention additional sub-phases, such as "embryonic sketches," "designer's sketches," and "development drawings." See also Henry O. Milliken, "The Embrionic Sketch," Pencil Points 4, no. 11 (Nov. 1923), 23; and Eugene Clute, Drafting Room Practice (New York: Pencil Points Press, 1928).
See John Breiby, "The Making of Working Drawings: General Drawings," Pencil Points 4, no. 5 (May 1923), 23; and Egerton Swartwout, "Working Drawings, the Contract Set," Pencil Points 5, no. 10 (Oct. 1924), 39. Breiby was a frequent contributor to Pencil Points, especially on the subject of working drawings. Swartwout also published articles on the subject in a number of early-twentieth-century architectural magazines. Swartwout, who started his career at McKim, Mead and White and in the mid-1890s became a principal of Swartwout and Pratt, had extensive experience in design and construction of large public buildings.
Breiby, "The Making of Working Drawings: General Drawings."
Swartwout wrote that in the beginning of his independent practice he had used standard sheets of linen measuring 4 by 5 feet or even 4 by 7 feet; he discussed the projects of the Denver Post Office (1909–11) and the Missouri State Capitol (1913–18) in "Working Drawings, The Contract Set," Pencil Points 5, no. 10 (Oct. 1924), 39; cited in Eugene Clute, Drafting Room Practice, 155). Swartwout reported that the blueprints for the Missouri State Capitol had to be carried around the site in a wheelbarrow. It should be noted that in this article Swartwout advocated the use of smaller and less meticulous drawings, and stated that in his projects that followed the Missouri State Capitol he started using smaller sizes of drafting sheets. However, the "more modest" size that he used in his later practice was still much larger than those used today. Besides, the drawings, which the firm produced several years later—and that Swartwout reproduced to illustrate his later, less ambitious methods—show that his graphic techniques (which he claimed being totally void of anything that builders did not need) were quite lavish and did contain much excessive information.
In other words, unlike today, turn-of-the-century practice did not require large-scale details to be completed before the contract negotiation, not even by the beginning of construction. In fact, in the 1880s, it had been customary to start construction with even less-developed construction documents. However, the confidence with which turn-of-the-century "general" drawings were executed demonstrates that in fact many large-scale studies were conducted parallel to the preparation of general drawings—even if the finalized versions of these details were not included in these sets.
See John Breiby, "The Development of Working Drawings from Design Studies and Sketches," Pencil Points 4, no. 9 (Sept. 1923), 31.
It is worthy of noting, however, that full-fledged architects pride themselves on their continuous personal involvement in the production of working drawings, even though the structure of their offices would allow delegation of these tasks to their employees. See Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," chap. 4, for several examples and an interpretation of this phenomenon.
See Breiby, "The Development of Working Drawings from Design Studies and Sketches," 32.
See Woods, From Craft to Profession, 121.
See Egerton Swartwout, "Working Drawings, Full-Size Details," Pencil Points 5, no. 12 (Dec. 1924), 39.
See Egerton Swartwout, "The Use of Large-Scale Models in Architecture," Architecture, 24, no. 5 (Nov. 1911), 130–33.
See Harold Van Buren Magonigle, "The Preparation of Working Drawings," Architectural Review (Boston) 26 (Dec. 1909). Magonigle, another former employee of McKim, Mead and White, became in the beginning of the twentieth century an architect of notice as a designer of large number of upscale houses and the author of entries to numerous national competitions. He was another major contributor to various architectural periodicals, and, around the 1930, an editor of the Pencil Points magazine. He wrote extensively on various aspects of architectural practice—ranging from the questions of style to various rendering techniques to reminiscences of his work in the office of McKim, Mead and White—but gave special to the subject of working drawings.
See Harold Van Buren Magonigle, "Some Suggestions as to the Making of Working Drawings," Brickbuilder 22 (in three parts): no. 5 (May 1913), 101–3; no. 7 (July 1913), 147–53; no. 8 (Aug.1913), 174–78. By 1913 the respective roles of drawings and specifications were not unlike those assigned to them in today's architectural practices, i.e., drawings show shapes, size, and quantities of the whole building and its parts, while specifications describe the quality, performance, and make of building materials and products. It is worthy of noticing, however, that these roles had been assumed not long before the period in the focus of the present article. Mario Carpo argued, in his Architecture in the Age of Printing: Orality, Writing, Typography, and Printed Image in the History of Architectural Theory (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2001) 25–41, that medieval architectural theory privileged verbal and written means of describing buildings over graphic representation. See Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," chap. 3, on how these relationships persisted in construction documentation until the end of the eighteenth century. Quite a few surviving building specifications from the early fourteenth through late eighteenth century describe building features that we now expect to be explained by working drawings.
See Swartwout, "Working Drawings, The Contract Set," 39.
A number of historians have pointed at this paradox, if only in passing. Alfred Halse observed that early-twentieth-century working drawings were elegant to a point that transcended their instrumental value. He indicated that Magonigle's drawings in particular were "unsurpassed in their beauty." Halse also noticed that Magonigle's drawings contained information that competent builders from this time period could easily figure out on their own—as they had done just a couple decades earlier, when it was customary for architects to supply builders with much less-developed drawings; Halse, "A History of the Development of Architectural Drafting Techniques," 442, 450. Mary Beth Betts also reported that in spite of his business shrewdness, Cass Gilbert took special pride in his working drawings, and insisted on the adherence to an aesthetic standard that went well beyond their function of communicating information to builders; Betts, "From Sketch to Architecture," 65–66. Historian Charles Brownell noticed the eloquence of late-nineteenth-century working drawings that showed the most minute details of building elements. See Brownell et al., The Making of Virginia Architecture, 176.
The discrepancy between architects' rhetoric and the appearance of their drawings supports the main thesis of my dissertation, which draws on Paul Ricoeur's concept of ideology and theorist Dana Cuff's extension of this concept to architects' professional ideology. See Ortenberg, "Drawing Practices," 43–52; Ricoeur, Lectures on Ideology and Utopia; and Dana Cuff, Architecture: The Story of Practice (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).
Quoted from John Breiby, "The Making of Working Drawings: Scale Details," Pencil Points 4, no. 6 (June 1923), 27.
Quoted from Swartwout, "Working Drawings: Full-Size Details," 39.
Betts also wrote that Gilbert's drawings convey "a sense of pride in the skills that could produce such excellent work" (Betts,"From Sketch to Architecture, 67). This statement is especially significant as Betts describes a strong pressure from Gilbert's clients to reduce the cost and increase the speed of the production of working drawings (57–58).
R. C. Chapman, "Unrealized Designs," Architecture 11, no. 1 (Jan. 1905), 3, 5, 7, 14.
Among other interpretations one should also think of this rhetoric as a means to justify the subdivision of power within architectural offices. Sociologist Judith Blau stated, in her Architects and Firms: A Sociological Perspective on Architectural Practice (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1987), 26, that in architecture similar training and shared knowledge create a bond between different echelons within the firm. Blau and Cuff (Architecture, 130–37), demonstrate that this bond brings the sense of purpose to entry-level architects' every day activities—but it could also lead to subtle forms of exploitation. Clearly, the presentation of the production of working drawings as pleasurable and enjoyable was directed toward aspiring architects and the lower echelons of architects' offices, to encourage an understanding of the material qualities of a project, and this rewarding and pleasurable aspect of being an architect. See Woods, From Craft to Profession, 141–46, for her depiction of the complex mixture of camaraderie and exploitation that took place in architectural offices at the turn of the century.
The phrase "the joy in the act of drawing," which was chosen as the title of the present article, is quoted from anonymous article "Draftsmanship," Pencil Points 4, no. 4 (April 1923), 11.
Swartwout, for example, wrote: "I am a draftsman, as I think everyone ought to be who presumes to call himself an architect: I've been making scale drawings myself for thirty-three years, and in that time I've made a good many and I'm still making them, and therefore I speak from experience and not ex cathedra;" Egerton Swartwout, "Working Drawings, Scale Details," Pencil Points 5, no. 11 (Nov. 1924), 39.
More evidence to such practices could be found in Francis Swale's praise of Henry Bacon (the architect of the Lincoln Memorial), in which he commended Bacon for personally producing working drawings, even as he had the means to delegate their completion. Francis Swales, "Master Draftsmen, I, V," Pencil Points 5, no. 9 (Sept. 1924), 39. Historian Paul Sprague reported that Louis Sullivan was personally involved in the production of working drawings in the late 1880s, when working on the project for the Auditorium building and employing a large number of draftsmen. Sprague noticed that Sullivan personally produced one such drawing on Christmas Day 1890. Paul Sprague, Drawings of Louis Henry Sullivan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979) 9.
Quoted from "Draftsmanship," 11.
This is, in essence, the main argument of leading historian of architectural practice in France, Jean-Pierre Epron, in his seminal book Comprendre Eclectisme (Paris: Norma Editions, 1997).
See John. F. Harbeson, "The Sketch Problem, part IV," Pencil Points 5, no. 1 (Jan. 1924), 97. This essay was the last in a series of his articles dedicated to design and production techniques taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
As an example, Jordy framed his doubts about the validity of conserving and rebuilding the palace in terms of inadequate design process. He wrote in his American Buildings, 284, that it was "a mere festival set, with many of the crudities of temporary structures that are speedily designed, rapidly executed, and intended more for an overall effect in keeping with the occasion than for intense and prolonged scrutiny." Interestingly, while enthusiastically supporting the idea of rebuilding the palace, Cardwell made a similar assumption. His defense of the project reads as a statement that a building designed "for an instant in time," and intended for large crowds of visitors whose eyes were "not prejudiced by Vignola or d'Espouy" cannot be judged by the same criteria as a piece of permanent architecture. See Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 151.
The date in the title block of the majority of blueprints reads Sept. 15, 1913.
A preliminary site plan dated October 1912 shows the entrance to the art building through the rotunda. The approach to the rotunda was proposed via two symmetrical paths, parallel to the long axis of the oval formed by the colonnade. The drawing could be seen on the website of California Online Archive (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk0007q7085/?brand=oac4, forthcoming). A later version of the site plan, dated 15 November 1912, shows a bridge across the water that goes straight to the middle of the lagoon, and then breaks into two gently curved paths, each entering the rotunda. The drawing could be seen on the website of California Online Archive (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk0007q713x/?brand=oac4, forthcoming). Among surviving drawings there are a few more variations on the theme, most likely belonging to the same stage of the project's development. A perspective sketch showing a direct path across the lake toward the rotunda was most likely produced during the same period. This sketch can be accessed on California Online Archive (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk0007q723f/?brand=oac4, forthcoming).
A sketch showing partial main elevation of the palace, executed in 1⁄16-inch scale, is reproduced in Harris, Maybeck's Landscapes, 107, Fig. 61. The sketch most likely was produced, in late November or earlier December 1912, because a more detailed drawing (apparently a tracing of the earlier sketch) bears two dates, 14 December, and 26 December 1912. The later drawing could be seen on the website of California Online Archive, http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ceda/ucb/images/eda00000790_21a_k.jpg (accessed 29 June 2010).
Partial elevation of the rotunda, dating January 16, 1913, could be seen on California Online Archive, http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ceda/ucb/images/eda00000954_21a_k.jpg (accessed 29 June 2010).
The scope of the present article makes it impossible to reproduce and analyze many surviving drawings that would illustrate the exhaustive nature of Maybeck's design and production process. One example sketch that could be seen on California Online Archive (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf4q2nb1cs/?brand=oac4, accessed 29 June 2010) shows a "5" in the circle on the right corner, indicating this drawing's place in the sequence of studies.
The prototypes used by Maybeck on earlier stages of design included the Temple of Mars Ultor (see Figure 6). It appears, however, that by the spring 1913 he started giving attention to d'Espouy's rendition of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.
Some drawings of the columns show even smaller diameters. Figure 16 indicates a diameter of 5 feet 4 inches. Another drawing, dated early March 1913, indicating 5 feet 2 inches. Note, however, that it is difficult to know at what point of the project's development these dimensions were entered on the drawings.
The capitals on the working drawings demonstrate strong influence from those of the Monument of Lysicrates. However, by the time the office started working on full-size templates, the capital from the Temple of Castor and Pollux must have became a major inspiration. The archive of William Merchant, Maybeck's associate who worked on the project of the Palace of Fine Arts, contains a photograph copy of the plate from d'Espouy showing this version of the Corinthian order (see Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, William G. Merchant/Hans U. Gerson Collection, VI)). It is placed next to photographs of full-size charcoal sketches of the capitals. I made this observation while continuing my research after my dissertation, where I had erroneously suggested that the capitals of the Pantheon in Rome was a starting point of the design for the palace's columns' capitals.
In the online version of the article, click on the right side of the image on Figure 22 to see the pencil marks on the photograph of the model.
See Edward R. Ford, The Details of Modern Architecture (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1990) vol. 1, 7.
As Cardwell indicates, Maybeck's design was criticized because of his liberal mix of Greek and Roman sources—especially due to the combination of a Greek entablature in conjunction with arches and a domed structure (Cardwell, Bernard Maybeck, 149). In fact, Maybeck was quite open about his approach. In his typescript "The Palace of Fine Arts" he made numerous references to "the Greek" and "the Greeks" as an explanation to certain aspects of his design. His working drawings also demonstrate his interest in the Greek version of the Corinthian order (cf. Figure 18 and the capital on Figure 7).
Historian Gray Brechin argued that Maybeck's became especially fascinated with charcoal and pastel as a result of his work on the palace, and that his preference for this media was related to his growing interest in stucco, another outcome of this project. See Gray Brechin, "Sailing to Byzantium: The Architecture of the Fair," in Burton Benedict, The Anthropology of World's Fairs: San Francisco's Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, with contributions by Marjorie M. Dobkin, Gray Brechin, Elizabeth N. Armstrong and George Starr (Berkeley: Lowie Museum of Anthropology; Berkeley and London: Scolar Press, 1983), 109. However, according to Craig, Bernard Maybeck atPrincipia, 271, one of his pastel sketches for Principia College was accompanied by a letter suggesting that the wall it depicted should be built as if it was "made by the Cyclops of monster blocks."
Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, Bernard Maybeck Collection.
See Longstreth, On the Edge of the World, 337. According to Longstreth, Maybeck also embraced this approach because "smudging swaths of carbon on paper. . . made [his design process] intensely personal" (ibid., 338).
McCoy, Five California Architects, 2). cited Maybeck's interviews for radio station KPFA and his discussion of André's lessons.
Harris discusses the influence of California landscape artists, including William Keith and Arthur and Lucia Mathews, who. had developed a warm palette similar to the one Maybeck would adopt. California landscape was the main focus of Keith and the Mathewses; Harris argues that Maybeck's architecture also influenced their work. See Harris, Maybeck's Landscapes, 56–65.
Gunite is a trademark that was, in the 1930s, superseded by such terms as "shotcret." Both refer to concrete mix applied under pressure pneumatically over steel reinforcement. Robert Craig discussed Maybeck fascination with Gunite's ability to form rough, uneven surfaces (Craig, Bernard Maybeck at Principia, 201–5).
Ibid., 255. In fact, as Craig reports, in the case of one of such structures—dining room/kitchen building—the client's intent—eventually abandoned—was to have it designed by the contractor's in-house draftspeople. This intention was due to Maybeck's overall tendency to excessive structural design of Principia buildings (ibid., 226–28).
Ibid.; the author returns to this subject throughout.
William Lee Woollett, "The Sketch Quality of Building," California Arts and Architecture 1, no. 11 (July 1931). Craig Bernard Maybeck at Principia, 248.
See note 19, above.
In his description of the palace, Jordy used the expression "folly" in its double meaning. He explained that the term referred to garden structures without any function, erected just to enhance a landscape. He also reminded his readers that in French folly meant madness or silliness. See Jordy, American Buildings and Their Architects, 281. Authors of many American architectural history surveys mentioned in the note 2 reinforced the contrast between Maybeck's Arts and Crafts legacy and the classicism of his palace. John Ely Burchard and Albert Bush-Brown, The Architecture of America, 235 and 362, present an example of the most negative assessment of the latter. Leland Roth, A Concise History of American Architecture, 214–15, who gave a more sympathetic critique of the palace, still stated that its eclecticism placed it below Maybeck's "more experimental work."
See notes 20 and 21 for examples of such critique and for Woolett's defense against it.
Chapman, "Unrealized Designs," 5.