Have a dialogue with a building.

It’s been a quiet week.  Mayhem everywhere, continued poor retail sales, a (paltry) fine levied against Goldman Sachs, appalling unemployment, people doing reckless things for reality show celebrity, fog.  Before the election season heats up and we’re all booked up with commitments to table for this or that initiative, let’s go exploring. 

SFGate has a mere mention of architect extraordinaire Julia Morgan (1872 – 1957) on today’s page.  Biographies describe this genius as California’s first female architect.  What could that mean?  No other woman designed a building or did other architectural work before Morgan?  Not possible.  Pause here for a moment of eye-rolling in commemoration of all the women who worked in architecture and no doubt as architects before Morgan.  Perhaps those women couldn’t get through the professional credential gate before Morgan; we acknowledge them nonetheless.

Back to Morgan, what a contribution she made!  Beautiful, livable structures that continue to shelter and inspire.  Here are just a few in the Bay Area (unfortunately, without addresses for a bike or drive-by).   Her most monumental work was Hearst Castle, but these intimate spaces people still call home are equally important. 

Here in San Francisco, other architects and designers have long been at work to fill our neighborhoods with livable and visually compelling  structures.  Get out the bike on a cool day to  see dozens of them, following a route devised by architects for last year’s month-long celebration of San Francisco architecture. 

Or, take the City Guides walking tour of the City’s downtown architectural greatest hits, including the hidden gem of a Frank Lloyd Wright building.  The tour is free and frequent.   While at the City Guides site, see what else catches your fancy.  Every tour has something to say about architecture.  Enjoy some walks and before you know it, you’ll be able to look at any building with a more experienced,  discerning eye (and appreciate them more).   

Wondering what’s beautiful and just  around the corner in your home or work neighborhood?  Check out San Francisco Beautiful’s inventory of most beautiful places, then go take a look at the real thing.  While at SF Beautiful’s site, see what else the organization is up to.  It’s entirely focused on our quality of life, which is all the more precious in these days of mayhem, financial stress, fog, and the rest.  Support their work if you can, even if only by letting  others know about it. 

Julia Morgan said that architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.  Let’s go listen to what they have to say.  LLII.

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