Utah Style and Design

Photo Friday: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center

July 20, 2018

This week found me going through my files for more images for the Frank Lloyd Wright documentary being prepared in Italy by an architect. Last week I posted photos of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House. This week the Marin County Civic Center offers an interesting contrast.

What the buildings share is California’s mild Mediterranean climate, though the Ennis House is in Los Angeles and the Civic Center is north and across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The mild climate’s influence can be seen in the open corridor walkways and outdoor public spaces.

The Ennis House was designed in the early 1920s, at an earlier and very prolific point in Mr. Wright’s career, and he designed the Marin County Civic Center at another very active point in his career, shortly before his death. He began the design in 1957 at age 90, and died before the building was completed.

As a public building, the Marin County Civic Center is an important part of many people’s lives. A friend of mine took a position with the County and worked in one of these offices. The building imposes a presence on the site that is very visible from Highway 101. There are tours of the building, and a virtual tour can be downloaded from the county’s website. In contrast, few of us can see the private homes Wright designed.

The building offers a continuous play of light, shadow, and interesting details.

The ceiling detail is one I particularly like, and I have sold framed prints of it and included it in a series of postcards featuring details of Wright’s buildings that show the span of his detailing and use of materials.

For those who appreciate Wright’s work, this is a project where you can take a camera and find a shot that has probably never been captured before. It’s a wonderful excursion into architectural photography.

Scot Zimmerman
Architectural photographer Scot Zimmerman has been photographing exteriors and interiors of homes, and commercial and public buildings across the United States for over 37 years. He is the principal photographer of eight books; over 40 periodicals have featured his work; and 11 museums have exhibited his photos. He’s fond of adventuring in the Southern Utah desert.

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