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You’re in the Wright Place!

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Marin County Civic Center (1957)

Marin County Civic Center
Photo Credit: Jeff Boyd

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.

Tours

Ninety minute docent-led tours are available. Tours are offered every Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 am. Pre-purchased tickets are recommended and are available for purchase online.

Location

10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA

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.

 

Interior of Marin Civic Center
Photo Credit: claass HAUS (claassHaus.com)

"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 County."

Filmed on Location

The 1997 film GATTACA has many scenes that were filmed at the Civic Center. The movie stars Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law. Browse more movies that were filmed in Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on our “Movie Sites” page.

Resources, Links & Products

Browse these resources for more information about this FLW Building, it’s history and information about the region.

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About Me

Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

FLW Enthusiast & Webmaster

Architecture and home design have always fascinated me. As a young girl I enjoyed drawing floor plans, rearranging my parent’s furniture and playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos.  My passion has always been the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Since I have been old enough to drive a car, I have visited Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the Chicagoland area and attended the Wright Plus house walks. Now, as co-owners of Northern Sky Designs, my husband & I are able to combine our website design skills and FLW travels to bring you this website! Enjoy!

Yvonne Carpenter-Ross