Marin County Civic Center
After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the drive north is quite scenic in and of itself, but passing through Sausalito and then San Rafael -- ignoring the traffic of course -- will begin to give one a small sense of the connection to the land that Frank Lloyd Wright intended between the Marin County Civic Center and its surroundings. In fact, when traveling north, the building is hardly noticeable at all from the freeway; traveling south it is only slightly more perceptible.
The Final Commission
Completed in 1962, the building is one of a very few state-sponsored buildings designed by Wright. Government buildings always seem to demand your attention to their skyward thrust; Wright's design here eschews that for the long, low and horizontal curve that embraces the ground and melds with the hills to the east. The geometry is born of circles. The large, center arches over the highway giving way to two progressively smaller ones that extend back toward a union with the striking blue roof that blends with the California sky; the three sets of arches seemingly paying tribute to three hills beyond. It was Wright's 770th and final commission; he unfortunately did not witness its completion, passing away in April of 1959.
From the Oriental-influenced 172-foot gold spire to the color schemes that mimic the surrounding landscape to the open and flowing feel of the structure, the design is clearly classic Frank Lloyd Wright.
"We know that the good building is not the one that hurts the
landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than
it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one
of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make
the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Related Articles, Media, Resources & Links
Browse these resources for more information about this FLW Building, it's history and information about the region.
- An Architecture for Democracy: The Marin County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright and Aaron G. Green
- Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin County Civic Center: Commemorating 50 Years by Gwen Cheryl Lyn Sarandrea
- The 1997 film GATTACA has many scenes that were filmed at the Civic Center.