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Author Archives: Christina Marino

Notes sur l’asphalte : Esquisse d’une Amérique mobile et précaire

Posted on by Christina Marino

BY: JASON MILLER, DIRECTOR OF THE VISUAL RESOURCES CENTER

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The CED Visual Resources Center is very proud to have contributed many images from our collections to a new exhibit, Notes sur l'asphalte : Esquisse d'une Amérique mobile et précaire, that opened in Montpellier, France, on February 7th. Curated by Historian Jordi Ballesta and Photographer and Master Printer Camille Fallet, the show presented photographs by many scholars well known to Berkeley – many of them taught in the College of Environmental Design and are revered for their work, in front of and behind the camera. The exhibit included works by former Berkeley teachers John Brinckerhoff Jackson, David Lowenthal, Donald Appelyard, Richard Longstreth, and Alan Jacobs, as well as scholars and photographers including Chester Liebs, Walker Evans, William Christenberry, and Thomas Strong.

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Photo: Highway signs by J.B.Jackson

Curator Jordi Ballesta describes the exhibit best: “The purpose of the exhibition Notes sur l'asphalte : Esquisse d'une Amérique mobile et précaire [Photographic notes on asphalt: images of a mobile and vernacular America] will be to show research works never exhibited in Europe and almost forgotten in the United States, as they belong to a relatively unknown gap located on the edges of the studied academic methods, artistic practices and documentary processes. For these architects, geographers and historians, the photography seems to have been a means of quick note-taking. Their photographic practices didn't lead to deviate from the everyday world; they allowed us to question it and to structure their field experience mainly developed on the road. To this end, D. Appleyard, J. B. Jackson, D. Lowenthal, and others took pictures while driving, stopping on the roadside, or staying inside their vehicle.”

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Photo: Images taken by Alan Jacobs on view

The Visual Resources Center hosted Ballesta and Fallet several times over the past few years as they completed research for the exhibit. As VRC Librarian, I was honored to take part in helping them uncover evocative and enlightening photographs that have never been exhibited and in many cases have not been seen for many years. 

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Chapel in the Rocks

Posted on by Christina Marino

By: Waverly Lowell, Curator

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sedona

When people hear Sedona Arizona, the usual responses are first “the red rocks are incredible” followed by “have you seen the chapel in the rocks??!!”  I spent part of the winter break in Sedona and would say yes to both. 

Sedona is at an elevation of 4,500 feet and considered part of the upper Sonoran Desert of Northern California. The famous red rocks of Sedona are due to the presence of hematite (iron oxide also known as rust) that stains the layer of sand stone known as the Schnebly Hill Formation. The Schnebly Hill Formation is found only in the Sedona vicinity and was deposited during the Permian Period.

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snow in sedona

Although also known for its mild climate, we were lucky to visit during a rare snowstorm. 

Driving through the valley surrounded by geologic splendor, and seeing the Chapel of the Holy Cross rising out of the stone, one can’t help but think of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. 

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Petra, Jordan

Completed in 1956, the chapel rises 70 feet out of a 1,000-foot red rock cliff.

Local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Staude commissioned the now iconic chapel for Bernard T. Espelage, Bishop of Gallop. It seems that her original idea, in the early 1930s, was to build something in Budapest, Hungary but she had to forgo that plan due to the outbreak of World War II. She then chose to build the church in her native region. Although the chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land, Staude obtained a special-use permit with the assistance of Senator Barry Goldwater.[1]

 

 

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the Chapel of the Holy Cross

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Detail on Planter box outside chapel

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chapel Plaza

Richard Hein was chosen as project architect, and the design was executed by architect August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen. The chapel was completed in only 18 months.  The chapel is modest with a view that is not. 

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Interior of chapel

It consists of one large room with a small entry way and a flight of stairs down to the gift shop. Once I returned to Berkeley, I immediately viewed the drawings in the EDA Anshen + Allen Collection. 

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Longitudinal Section, Anshen & Allen Collection, Environmental Design Archives

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Presentation drawing, Anshen & Allen Collection, ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ARCHIVES

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South elevation, Anshen & Allen Collection, Environmental design Archives

 [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapel_of_the_Holy_Cross_(Sedona,_Arizona) accessed 1/7/2017


One Degree of Separation

Posted on by Christina Marino
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As many of you know SIX degrees the Archives’ new exhibit is currently on display in the Environmental Design Library thru December 14th. It uses the theory of six degrees of separation and applies it to the designers whose collections are held at the Environmental Design Archives. The exhibition showcases projects that resulted from both personal and professional connections, illustrating the interconnectedness that existed and continues to exist among Bay Area designers. Doing the research for this exhibition was both fascinating and challenging as was attempting to display it graphically. 

The more I read about these designers, the more fascinating the web of connections became. At the same time the dense, complex, and expanding growing web of connections made it challenging to select what to include in the exhibition. One connection that did not make it into the exhibit (except for a small text explanation) was perhaps the most interesting on both levels as it involved two major players in the architecture world: Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957) and William Wurster (1895-1973).

This connection came as a result of a piece of correspondence Waverly read while processing the Catherine Bauer Wurster Collection for the Bancroft Library. The letter was from Catherine Bauer Wurster to Helen Maybeck (see letter below). The content implied a personal closeness. Waverly asked me if I have ever heard of a Helen Maybeck, I had not. Searching through census records revealed that - William Wurster had a sister named Helen. This surprised us, as some biographical literature about William Wurster declares he was an only child. Even more surprising Wurster’s sister married into the Maybeck family!

Clifford  Maybeck, son of Bernard’s first cousin, married Helen Wurster. Cliff, Helen, and their three children lived in Stockton but holidays were spent in north Berkeley, staying with the Wursters on Greenwood Terrace and visiting uncle Ben and Annie on Buena Vista Way around the corner.

What a find!

We hope that you will join us for our Exhibition talk to hear stories like this told by: Architect Cathy Simon, Landscape Architect Tito Patri, Architectural Historian Daniel Gregory, and Planner David Stein.

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Research Camp or Summers at the Archives

Posted on by Christina Marino
By: Matthew Gordon Lasner

 

One of the great pleasures, intellectual and personal, of working in a physical archives, with an archivist, is the serendipitous discovery of material that leads one in new, unanticipated research directions.

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FIG 1: Pomeroy Green, Eichler Homes, Santa Clara. Oakland & Imada Collection

 

I first came to the Environmental Design Archives in the fall of 2010, when I was completing a book on co-ops, condos, and townhouses, in which I discussed some Bay Area examples developed by Eichler Homes designed by architect Claude Oakland, whose papers are housed there. After telling archivist Waverly Lowell about the project, she pulled out several fascinating, original items that proved extremely helpful, including plans, photos from the planning and sales phases (Fig. 1), and correspondence (Fig. 2). Unfortunately, it was too late to incorporate much of the material into the manuscript.

 

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FIG 2: Letter to Joseph Eichler from Mrs. Carl Mattos, 1970. Oakland & Imada Collection

Eager to revisit the Oakland & Imada Collection for an article, I secured a small research grant to spend a few weeks at the Archives the following summer, in 2011. As I poured through the collection, it became clear that there was enough material to warrant something more than an article: Eichler Homes and Oakland (Oakland worked almost exclusively for Eichler), (Fig. 3)

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Fig 3: Claude Oakland and Joseph Eichler. Oakland & Imada Collection

had been at the forefront of efforts to combat urban sprawl in the 1950s and 1960s, with buildings like the Eichler Summit (Fig. 4-6). Here was an idea for a book.

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fig 4: During construction of Summit Towers, Fig 5: Summit presentation drawing, Fig 6: Summit brochure

But the book would not just focus on Oakland and Eichler. During that summer I also had the chance to explore the collections of several other architects whose work engaged with similar questions as Oakland’s, including Vernon DeMars and his design partner Donald Reay. I returned the following summer, and then again for shorter periods the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016. In the meantime, I delivered papers on Eichler and Oakland, and published an article on some of DeMars’s work, including his designs for Bannockburn, outside of Washington, DC (Fig. 7), and Easter Hill Village, a public housing project (now demolished) in the East Bay’s city of Richmond (Fig. 8). Most recently I explored the work of landscape architect Richard Vignolo in Atlanta, Georgia, in a forthcoming article.

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Fig 7: Bannockburn Housing, Bethesda, MD, 1944-1949.  Vernon DeMars Collection, Fig 8: Easter Hill Village, Richmond, CA, 1950. Vernon DeMars Collection

Now, after completing several other large projects, I am set to begin writing the book. But happily with at least one more summer in the archives, during which I will finish looking through the recently processed collection of Charles Warren Callister, whose projects like Connecticut’s Heritage Village (Fig.9-10) — one of the first, finest, and most emulated cluster-housing developments on the East Coast — have made him a primary focus of the project.

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Fig 9-10: Heritage Village for Otto Paparazzo, Simsbury CT, 1966-1968. Warren Callister Collection


The SPIRO Image Database: 1992-2016

Posted on by Christina Marino

The SPIRO website debuted in 1992. It was a computer-based approach to managing a large analog photograph collection: an online catalog of a 35mm slide library. Using a relatively new process of digitizing film, it allowed one to "preview" a slide's image on a computer screen, after querying the computer to return a set of images based on search terms.  It may now seem a quaint notion that this could have been revolutionary, but at the time nothing like it existed. Thoughts of teaching directly with digital images, or of pure digital photography were barely imaginable. Thus SPIRO trod an early path to searching for and receiving digital images over computer networks. 

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Photo: SPIRO debut, 1992: Librarian Maryly Snow, who guided the creation of the SPIRO database, with: (r to l) Jean-Pierre Protzen (Architecture Chair), Steven Brooks (Photographer for Slide Library), CED Dean Roger Montgomery, as well as various Museum Informatics Project staff, administrators, and Provosts

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Early search screens for the SPIRO database

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Early search screens for the SPIRO database

In time, tools were developed to project digital images and to make digital photographs, and it became easier to teach with a PowerPoint file than with a carousel of 35mm slides. SPIRO adapted by becoming a catalog of digital teaching images that had 35mm counterparts, rather than a catalog of 35mm slides with digital reference images. 

Throughout the 2000s the Internet and World Wide Web grew at an unimaginable rate to become the enormous phenomenon that it is today. It is astounding to think that entire industries, social movements, and professions have arisen that revolve around these computer networks that we call the Internet.

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Photo: Using SPIRO as an online guide to the physical slide collection, c. 2000

In it’s 26th year, it is with a bit of sadness that to announce that this summer, the SPIRO image database has been retired and taken offline. The core technologies that run SPIRO are still viable - a bundle of php scripts that direct input from a primitive HTML interface to an ancient bunch of sql database tables- but the software running the database (a Sybase product) is no longer supported. Likewise the departmental entity that maintains it here at UC Berkeley has changed so as to make a similar evolution in SPIRO a necessity.

Sybase has been superseded, and the Museum Informatics Project which built and ran SPIRO no longer exists as part of campus IST. The images and data in SPIRO will be migrated to two new systems: a UC-wide instance of ARTstor, where all the SPIRO content will be available to all UC campuses, and planning is in the works for a local, smaller, Omeka website, which will mirror our ARTstor data and display images that the University of California owns copyright to.

--Jason Miller, Director of the Visual Resources Center


Environmental Design Archives: A Teaching Collection

Posted on by Christina Marino
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The archives in Wurster Hall following the move to Wurster Hall  ca. 1967

William W. Wurster founded the Environmental Design Archives (then the Architectural Archives) in 1953 as a teaching collection, in response to the recommendation of eminent architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock. Sixty-three years later the Archives holds true to its original mission by giving research assistance and instructional sessions to students from the College of Environmental Design, the University of California, and national and international centers of learning. 

Students use the Archives with classes that visit the EDA for instruction sessions, individually for term papers, and independently for inspiration.

Class instruction sessions usually last one hour and involve Archives staff and Faculty collaborating to identify targeted collection material for students to examine and discuss as a group in the EDA’s reading room. For example each year, instructor Dawn Kooyumjiam brings in her “Landscape Plants: Identification and Use” students to examine plant books and planting plans from the EDA’s vast collections. Studying the archival material helps students develop and hone their drawing techniques which can be seen in their end of semester pin-ups, featured below:

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close up of final tree drawings from Landscape Plants students

For some courses such as the History of Art Department's ”American Architecture: The U.C. Berkeley Campus”, Department of Architecture graduate seminar “City of Memory”, and the History of Art Department's Mellon funded graduate seminar “Berkeley Collects” - students spend the entire semester conducting research using the EDA’s collections for writing papers, leading campus architectural tours, designing exhibitions, and giving presentations.

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view of exhibition pamphlet featuring archival objects from the eda, from the "Berkeley collects' class who curated the "Papyrus in the Crocodile" exhibition

More than 300 students use the Archives each school year. To get a sense of what students are taking away from their experience at the EDA we have incorporated a survey component to instruction sessions. The survey project has been an extremely informative process, yielding valuable information about what students are taking away from one-time archival instruction sessions at the Environmental Design Archives. This information continues to inform the material that is pulled for class visits, and how information about the Archives’ resources is presented verbally and through handouts. For more information on the survey project, see the Students in the Archives blog post.

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Student presenting her design at the chair COMPETITION

Students also use the Archives outside of course work. In the Fall of 2015, the Archives hosted the first annual student furniture competition that required student participants to use the Archives’ material for inspiration and precedent for their own chair designs.The students work will be included in the upcoming furniture exhibition Form Follows: Design at a Smaller Scale which will be on view in the Environmental Design Library opening June 1. For more information on the competition see the blog.

The Environmental Design Archives is open by appointment only Monday thru Friday. Reference inquiries can be directed to designarchives@berkeley.edu or 510.642.5124.


Notes from Havana

Posted on by Christina Marino
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Photo: By Author

Hello I’m one of the student archives technicians at the Environmental Design Archives.  A second year undergraduate in the CED Architecture program, I am fascinated by design and its history, and consider it an honor to participate in the preservation, processing and exhibition of the many collections the Archives has in its vaults. 

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Photo: By Author, Habana Libre Hotel

During Spring Break I was lucky to be invited to join my parents on a trip to Cuba. The trip was prompted by my father who completed a master’s degree in public health at the University of Havana in the late 1970s and had always wanted to return. 

Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the fascinatingly eclectic mix of cultures, styles and influences which make up the island. The island’s undeniably Caribbean way of life contrasts with the stiff, Brutalist soviet architecture which fills much of Havana’s skyline. Its older American cars are at odds with the more modern soviet Lada’s and Moskovich’s; mufflers echoing the cold war tensions which caught Cuba in the crossfire. While the country is a fascinating collage of all of these forces, it always seems to find a way to make it distinctly Cuban. Havana’s crumbling historic Spanish-colonial center in many places has been appropriated by local residents and repainted to reflect the lively and vibrant local culture, similarly to the classic American cars which have been covered in bright paints with added Cuban flags and stickers.

This idea of appropriation took a more violent form during the Cuban revolution of 1953-59. Previously foreign owned assets like Texaco, Esso and Shell facilities in Cuba were nationalized under Fidel Castro’s leadership along with many hotel buildings in Havana, like the Havana Hilton which became the Habana Libre, or the Hotel Nacional, which was largely owned by American investors.

Despite the blockage of US visitors to the island, Cuba is a major tourist destination for the rest of the world. Touristic infrastructure does exist, but also has much room for improvement. Part of the reason for this is due to the embargo against Cuba which not only banned US investment in the island, but also mandated that any foreign companies that participated in Cuba’s economy then couldn’t participate in the US. This policy effectively suffocated Cuba’s development, although Cubans have been able to find ways around the embargo and progress significantly. With Obama’s recent visit to the island, and the relaxation of historic tensions, it is possible that the embargo will be lifted, prompting a rat-race for foreign development companies. Many in Cuba fear this, seeing it as a way for the US to re-establish economic control over the island in the form of large resorts, hotels, housing, and other infrastructure development. Local residents also fear that the well preserved ecological systems of the island, some of the healthiest in the entire Caribbean, will suffer if the embargo is lifted, due to increased economic exploration of the island. 

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Photo: By Author, Taxi's lined up by Lennon Park

Apart from strolling around Havana, my parents and I also took a short day trip to the Viñales valley, a region where the majority of the tobacco for Cuban cigars is grown. The valley features large rock protrusion called mogotes which are what remains of a large mesa that had been slowly eroded by wind and water. This region is an example of the ecological struggle soon to occur, as it is already struggling to sustain its water and agricultural resources against the expanding forces of development, largely attracted by mining prospects and caving tours for tourists.

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Photo: By Author, Viñales Valley

 

My week in Cuba was a truly eye-opening experience. In spite of my left-leaning tendencies, and the fact that my Father had told me stories about the island, I still unconsciously arrived to the island with all the preconceptions and baggage of the Cold war swirling around in my mind. The projected reality of US propaganda painted the island as an impoverished country, a hollow shell of the Soviet Union’s puppet it once was. A place where the only exportable commodities are sugar, tobacco, rum and baseball players. A haven for expat’s, hippies, revolutionaries and little else.

It was immediately clear to me that Cuba’s history is far more complex than these convenient, politicized interpretations. Now that tensions are cooling and change is fast approaching this island nation, the biggest question is, what will be its future?

-Miguel Nieto


Students in the Archives

Posted on by Christina Marino

In the fall of 2014 I began to actively reach out to faculty and graduate student instructors (GSI) in an effort to increase use of the Environmental Design Archives by students. I read through course descriptions for undergraduate and graduate classes offered in the College of Environmental Design. For courses offered that directly related to material held by the Archives, I emailed or spoke in person with faculty members and GSIs and provided a list of relevant collection materials with links to digitized collection material on the Online Archive of California (OAC) when possible. 75% of faculty and GSIs contacted scheduled instruction sessions at the Archives. During the academic year 239 students toured the EDA from 13 different courses. As classes visited the Archives, I began to wonder what students were learning from these one-shot archival instruction sessions. 

Engaging faculty to bring their classes to use the EDA led to collaboration between Archives staff and faculty on curriculum, which led to teaching students with targeted collection material. To close the loop and to get a better sense of what students were taking away from one-shot Archival instructional sessions, surveys were administered.

To date I have surveyed 5 classes: CED’s American Architecture: The UCB Campus, Landscape Plants: Identification and Use, Landscape Graphics I, California Architecture, and Art History’s Berkeley Collects. Below are graphs and a summary analysis of the responses to 5 core questions: Experience with Primary Resources, Takeaways, Effectiveness, Likelihood of Returning, and Education Level/Field of Study.

EXPERIENCE WITH PRIMARY RESOURCES

For 52% of students, the instructional session at the EDA was their first exposure to an Archival repository. Therefore, it is essential that their first experience be a positive one that leads to an understanding of the value and importance of primary resources in relation to their current studies, their professional careers, and other future endeavors.

TAKEAWAYS

Students are taking away with them valuable information about how to access the resources available to them at the EDA (and other archives) as well as information contained in the archival records and drawings themselves, i.e. why and how they were created (drawing techniques) and the larger context of what information the drawings convey about the client, design aesthetic, program, function, and era in which they were created. 

EFFECTIVENESS

More than half of the students who took the survey thought the tour was adequate and did not offer any suggestions on how to improve it. However, the majority of the remaining responses touched on specific concepts and content they would like addressed-- predominately studying design development and how to access digitized collection material. This feedback has been immensely helpful, and in response I have created a guide to hand to students, which Assistant Archivist Cailin Trimble designed, describing how to access information about our Collections - both physical and digital. I have also begun to include more examples of design development in the projects I pull for student instruction sessions.

LIKELIHOOD OF RETURNING  

The chart below shows the likeliness of returning on a scale of 1 to 10, the vertical axis illustrates the percent of people indicating a level of likeliness.

It is great to see that 88% of students are likely to return to the Archives.

EDUCATION LEVEL AND FIELD OF STUDY

54% of students who toured the Archives do not come from a design or architectural history background. Therefore, the EDA might be the first place where they are introduced to records of the built environment. 

Conclusion

The survey project has been an extremely informative process, one that has yielded invaluable information about what students are taking away from one-shot archival instruction sessions at the Environmental Design Archives. This information continues to inform the material that is pulled for class visits, and how information about the Archives’ resources is presented verbally and through print (handouts). I plan to continue to survey classes that visit the Archives in an effort to collect more viable data and improve both instruction and the student’s experience.


Fairs to Remember

Posted on by Christina Marino
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Photo: Archives staff hard at work

It’s Exposition mania in the Archives right now. The exhibit Exceptional Expositions is designed and everyone is busy mounting pieces of it and preparing text.  It will soon be hung in the cases with care in hopes that on opening viewers appear.  The Exhibit celebrating the centennial of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and the publication of a new book, Into the Void Pacific, on the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) opens on Tuesday September 8th. 

International expositions served as entertainment, education, mass media, and industrial marketing. The 1876 Centennial Exposition was followed by numerous fairs in the U.S. including Chicago’s Columbian Exposition (1893), Buffalo’s (1901), St. Louis’ (1904), and Seattle’s Alaska Yukon Pacific (1909); as well as the depression era Chicago Fair (1932) and New York’s World’s Fair in 1939. Ironically, both the New York and Chicago Fairs promoted themselves as a vision of the future, while the GGIE placed itself in a Pacific Region that, in fact, turned out to be the future.

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Photo: Shanken's new book

 

The PPIE and GGIE promoted San Francisco as the hub of the Pacific encompassing both Latin America and Asia. The architecture of the PPIE presented a Beaux Arts confection while the buildings of the GGIE presented a sometimes uneasy transition from a Beaux Arts to a modern design aesthetic.

Come to the Fair and join us on September 17th for a program of presentations by Architectural Historian Dan Gregory and CED Assoc. Professor of Architectural History Andrew Shanken.

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Ernest Born, Map of the GGIE, 1939

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Aeroplane View Main Group of Exhibit Palaces, PPIE

PhotographPacific House, GGIE
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Palace of Fine Arts, PPIE


Manufactures in Miniature: Booths of the PPIE

Posted on by Christina Marino
PhotographPalace of Food Products

The Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915 had 80,000 exhibition booths spread over 3,731,500 square feet--the equivalent of 85 acres or 64 football fields. In 1911 during the planning stages of the Exposition Dr. Frederick James Volney Skiff was hired as director-in-chief of domestic and foreign participation, the same year the exposition began accepting exhibitor applications. Skiff developed an exposition taxonomy organizing the exhibition halls and the exhibitions within them according to perceived patron interest. A team of exhibition division chiefs was assembled between 1912 and 1914, who would go on to create 11 main exhibition departments, 56 exhibition categories, and 800 exhibition subclasses. To advertise the exhibition space, brochure advertisements were mailed to industry, trade, and scientific organizations enticing them to purchase an exhibition space that included police and fire protection but more importantly would allow them to showcase their goods and wares to an international audience...remember this is before the internet!

 

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Gillette

The same year the PPIE opened also marked the infancy of the implementation of building codes in America. This is reflected in the regulations established by the Exposition regarding booth construction. Exhibitors were expected to erect booths in the fair grounds that conformed to the exposition-defined standards. These standards included proscribed heights for display cases, table tops, cornices, and railings, among others. Even signage had to be “moderate in size and neat design.” Behavior within the confines of each respective booth was also regulated--eating was off limits, promotional materials like brochures had to be approved by the chief of that exhibition department, and goods could only be ordered and not directly sold from each booth.

 

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Remmington U.M.C.

The drawings of PPIE booths in our collection would have either been located in the Palace of Manufactures (housing “more refined goods”) or the Palace of Varied Industries. To see more of the PPIE booths and buildings as well as material from the Golden Gate International Exposition, another world’s fair held in the San Francisco Bay Area 24 years later, come see the Exceptional Expositions exhibition in the Environmental Design Library on view from September 8th to December 16th, 2015.

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Interior Hardwood Co. Parquet Floors