Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marin Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, Marin Civic Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA

The 140-acre (0.57 km2) Scettrini Ranch in Santa Venetia was purchased in 1956 for $551,416 for use as the site of the Civic Center and County Fairgrounds.
Frank Lloyd Wright presenting the Civic Center plans at San Rafael High School, March 25, 1958. Image from the cover of This Week In Marvelous Marin, December 26, 1958.
On July 31, 1957, Frank Lloyd Wright spoke at a public meeting at San Rafael High School to impart his philosophy of architecture and particularly, organic architecture. Following that meeting, he signed the contract that made him the official architect for the Marin County Civic Center and fairgrounds complex. The next day, he was driven to the Scettrini Ranch, site of the new Civic Center, and announced that he had come up with his design.

A year later, on March 25, 1958, Wright returned to San Rafael High School with a complete set of drawings for the entire site, including the Administration Building, Hall of Justice, Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, and numerous buildings and structures for the fairgrounds. It was an informal session with opportunities for community members to ask Frank Lloyd Wright questions.

How would you characterize your project for the Marin County Civic Center?
Here's his answer: http://www.marinlibrary.org/sites/default/files/FLW%20excerpt%203.mp3

Groundbreaking for the Civic Center Administration Building took place in 1960, after Wright's death, and under the watch of Wright's protégé, Aaron Green, and was completed in 1962.
The Hall of Justice was begun in 1966 and completed in 1969. This was the last commission by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Veterans Memorial Auditorium opened in 1971 by Taliesin Associates (senior architect: William Wesley Peters and Associate, Aaron Green) , and the Exhibit Hall opened in 1976.
The auditorium was completed about fifteen years after the first commission was accepted. The Auditorium, however, echoes details of the neighboring Civic Center, especially in its curvilinear forms and the roof design.

Photos courtesy of Mary Sullivan

The Marin County Civic Center is a state and National Historic Landmark.[2] The Civic Center has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List[4] as a part of ten properties by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Civic Center Tower is the tallest artificial structure in Marin County.



On August 21, 1975 the Symbionese Liberation Army planted bombs in the Civic Center parking lot, which detonated and destroyed two sheriff's cruisers. Black Panther activist Angela Davis was eventually tied to the case, prompting her to go on the run before being caught and ultimately acquitted on charges of supplying firearms to the S.L.A.

The original design called for the roof to be gold in color, but was changed to blue in 1961.

The Civic Center has been referred to as the "Martian Embassy" due to the futuristic appearance of the spire and "flying saucer" at the south end of the building.



Jerry performed here on
6/2/73 Merl Saunders
2/18/78 Jerry Garcia Band
10/30/83 Grateful Dead
10/31/83 Grateful Dead
3/28/84 Grateful Dead
3/29/84 Grateful Dead
3/31/84 Grateful Dead
4/1/84 Grateful Dead
9/29/84 John Kahn (acoustic)
2/28/86 John Kahn (acoustic)
11/14/86 John Kahn (acoustic)
2/20/87 Jerry Garcia Band
4/26/88 Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band




Sources on Marin Civic Center
Bruce Pfeiffer. Frank Lloyd Wright Drawings. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. aerial perspective drawing, p169.

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-8-93-1421-5. LC 87-20755. NA737.W7A4 1988. p7.

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, text, Yukio Futagawa, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, N.Y. 1943-59 Marin County Civic Center, California. 1957-1970. Tokyo: A.D.A EDITA tokyo Co., Ltd., 1975. NA x737 .W7 F8735. p4-6.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture - Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p40. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography, reissued Fall 1999.

William Allin Storrer. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog. Second Edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1979. ISBN 0-262-19171-7. LC 78-1306. NA737.W7A4 1978. geographical index p14.

William Allin Storrer. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN 0-226-77624-7. LC 93-30127. NA737.W7A4 1993. plan drawing.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.

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