The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the finest buildings constructed for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. It was one of the most important symbols of the fair, situated near its center, at the end of the axis on which were located the Courts of the Four Seasons and of the Universe at the center, and the Court of Abundance, with the Machinery Palace framing the other side.
The Palace was designed by a well known local architect, Bernard Maybeck (b. New York, New York 1882; d. Berkeley, California 1957) who studied architecture at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts. Maybeck then moved to San Francisco, joined the firm of A. Page Brown, and established a private practice in 1894. Maybeck practiced in many styles, some of which he developed from local Californian forms. He also believed in originality for solving architectural problems, and he did just that in designing the Palace. The Palace was hailed as the most original design of the exposition. Although he used many elements from Greek and Roman antiquity, Maybeck did not simply follow customary forms, like other architects who tried to emulate classicism. The Palace was meant to represent a decaying Roman ruins. In the words of Maybeck, the building gave a sense of "sadness modified by the feeling that beauty has a soothing influence. (Maybeck, 3)"
The Palace of Fine Arts was built around a small artificial lagoon, as can be seen from the first image, a colored photograph from Colortypes of the Panama Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco 1915 (4 in. x 6 in.). It is composed of a wide, 1100 foot pergola, an arch formed by rows of Corinthian columns framing a wide walkway, around a central ...
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Banham, Reyner. "The Plot Against Bernard Maybeck." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians March 1984, p33-37
Burden Ernest E. San Francisco's Wildflower : the Palace of Fine Arts. Phoenix Publishing Co., San Francisco 1967.
Eggener Keith L., "Maybeck's melancholy: architecture, empathy, empire, and mental illness at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition." Winterthur Portfolio. Winter 1994, p.211-226.
James, Julia H. L. Palaces and courts of the exposition Blair Murdock Co. Publisher, San Francisco 1915.
Macomber, Ben The jewel city: its planning and achievement John H. William Publisher. San Francisco and tacoma, 1915
Maybeck, Bernard RPalace of Fine Arts and Lagoon Paul Elder and Company Publisher, San Francisco, 1915.
Sterling, George. The Evanescent City. AM Robertson Publisher. San Francisco 1916.
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