Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright had over 1,000 finished structures and design projects. Though most of his work can be found in the east coast, it is no surprise that Wright’s organic and geometrical design aesthetics fit right in California’s lifestyle, culture, and environment. The following are four notable Frank Lloyd Wright buildings found scattered in the very place we call home—the Bay Area.
1. Marin County Civic Center — San Rafael, CA
The Marin County Civic Center is recognized as his largest public project. Though the selection of Wright as the designer sparked some controversy, the overall product of his work has gained some widespread recognition and appreciation, especially within the entertainment sector. In addition to being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1991, the campus has been used to film movies, including Gattaca, THX 1138, and the music video for Dr. Dre’s song “I Need a Doctor.” The buildings’ futuristic design elements, such as the curved geometric shapes, inspired the structures in one of director, George Lucas’s, feature films.
2. Hanna House or “Honeycomb House”—Palo Alto, CA
The Hanna House was built for Stanford University professor, Paul R. Hanna’s family, on the school’s property in 1937. Also a National Historic Landmark, the structure got its nickname “Honeycomb” from Wright’s own hexagonal floor plan design, which allowed for openness and the integration of the sloped land that it sits on. Some local materials were used in the construction of the house, including redwood and San Jose brick. Today, the property belongs to the university and is used for receptions and meetings.
3. V.C. Morris Gift Shop–San Francisco, CA
Wright originally designed the V.C. Morris Gift Shop, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square, as a life size prototype of the circular ramp found in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York City. The current owner of the building, which is now known as Xanadu Gallery, has restored the space with Wright’s design intentions in mind while keeping the original black walnut built-in furniture. The gallery’s light fixtures, curved structural features, and repeated arches can also be seen in the Marin Civic Center.
4. Walker Residence—Carmel, CA
1948 seemed to have been a busy year for Mr. Wright as he designed both the V.C. Morris Gift Shop and the Walker Residence. And, just like the Hanna House, this seaside home was also designed with a honeycomb floor plan; exterior stonewalls, and boasts a wide copper roof that is supported by a large chimney. The vast rectangular glass windows soak in the breathtaking ocean views, part of Wright’s signature “organic design style,” which aims to bring his structures as close to nature as possible. The Walker Residence was also a hit in the Hollywood scene when its exterior and interior were used in the filming of the 1959 movie “A Summer Place.” However, unlike the buildings mentioned above, this property is unfortunately not open to the public.
Northern California is blessed with an abundance of unique and distinguished architecture, some of which have been honorably contributed by the talented Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright. So, if you find yourself without a weekend activity, take to the Internet and see the full list of Wright buildings within or near the Bay Area and take a relaxing drive to admire these structures for yourself. And, if the sights inspire you to incorporate Wright-esque designs in your own home, stop by one of our three locations (also coincidentally within the Bay Area) in San Jose, Burlingame and Pleasanton, and we’ll provide you with the best tile and stone for your renovation!