Post 1: Beginning Research on the architect

I began my project in the UC Davis Shields library, which, despite having over 5 million texts, only contained three Julia Morgan specific books on its shelves that I was guided to by a very helpful information desk assistant. I began reading Julia Morgan: Architect of Dreams by Ginger Wadsworth and took copious notes. That text mainly followed Morgan’s life and work from a broad perspective, from her childhood in Oakland to her first works and her most famous design Hearst Castle. This proved to be a really good jumping off point to more analytical readings. Julia Morgan: Architect by Sara Holmes Boutelle gave me a broader overview for understanding Morgan’s style, though as I learned she did not really have any strong unifying theme to her many designs. Boutelle write that “two opposing forces determined Morgan’s approach to architecture,” those being stately classicism from her time at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and both the natural and manmade environment of California. “What held Morgan steady throughout her career was the balance she established between historicism 0n the one hand and the demands of the client and site on the other,” Boutelle writes. This balance became apparent later in my research when I visited several of her designs.

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Abstract: Julia Morgan and the construction of Heart Castle

I am exploring how California architect Julia Morgan’s personal style and experience influenced the construction of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. By reexamining a thoroughly understood site through a different lens, one that focuses on Morgan and her personal influence rather than on Hearst himself, I will bring new insight to the site and a more holistic understanding of our past. I want to understand how this massive, impressive display of Hearst’s wealth and power is also a physical testament to the legacy of an impressive woman. Morgan’s history of creating spaces for women (like the Berkeley City Women’s Club) may reveal itself in the castle, and may bring to light how her gender influenced Hearst’s commission. I also want to understand how she navigated being the sole woman in many work situations, especially a very powerful one in the specific context of Hearst Castle.

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