The Julia Morgan 2012 Project, a collaboration of various organizations around the state, is hosting events, seminars and tours over the coming months to celebrate the life and legacy of California's first female licensed architect.
On Nov. 18, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association will present a tour of the houses that Morgan designed for Berkeley's professional and intellectual society, as well as buildings for Berkeley institutions and organizations.
Tickets may be ordered online or through the mail, and the heritage association is still in need of volunteers to staff the tour and the reception. To learn more, go to www.berkeleyheritage.com.
Although Morgan grew up in Oakland and lived most of her adult life in San Francisco, much of her work -- both residential and institutional -- is concentrated in Berkeley. Researchers with the heritage association have discovered clusters of distinguished Morgan residences throughout town. Some of her best-known nonresidential commissions, from clubhouse to churches, are on or near the UC Berkeley campus.
Morgan studied civil engineering as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley; she received her degree in 1894.
Included on the tour will be the landmark Berkeley City Club, opened in 1929, and considered to be second only to William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon on the list of Morgan's architectural masterpieces. Also on the tour, a visit to the UC Environmental Design Archives, where a special exhibit on the 40-plus year career of Morgan is currently featured. Titled "Hidden Engineer: The Designs of Julia Morgan," the exhibit re-examines some of her most influential designs. In all, Morgan and her staff completed more than 700 buildings throughout California and the West.
It also should be pointed out that many of these projects taken on by Morgan's office over the years were commissioned by women, some of whom she first met during her student days.
Karen McNeill, a Julia Morgan scholar, will be speaking Nov. 8 at Wurster Hall, at the UC College of Environmental Design. The lecture is free; call 510-642-5124 to learn more.
Not to be outdone, Mills College in Oakland is presenting an exhibit of drawings, photographs and artifacts associated with campus buildings Morgan designed for that institution. El Campanil (1904), an early work by Morgan at Mills, is thought to be the first bell tower on a U.S. college campus; it also is the first reinforced concrete structure on the West Coast. When the bell tower came through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake unscathed, it solidified the young recent Ecole des Beaux Arts graduate's reputation. More information is available on Mills College's website, www.mills.edu.
Do you have a favorite Julia Morgan building? The Julia Morgan Legacy Photography Contest is accepting digital format entries of a Morgan-designed building anywhere in California. The deadline is Nov. 15. Additional information and entry forms are available at Landmarks California, an affiliate of the State Library, and the repository for information on all the events taking place honoring Morgan.
For a complete listing of the upcoming events, as well as a biography of Morgan, go to www.landmarkscalifornia.org.