I. Introduction: The Idea, the Place, and the People

II. Open Competition, Antwerp, 1898

III. Final Competition, San Francisco, 1899

IV. Bénard's New Project, 1900

V. The Howard/Wheeler Campus, 1901-24

VI. The Phoebe Apperson Hearst Gym Memorial, 1922-30

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I. Introduction: The Idea, the Place, and the People

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In the late 1890s, the United States prepared for a new century and assumed the trappings of empire. Californians were anticipating the fiftieth anniversary of statehood and polishing their own expectations of political and cultural fulfillment. Visionaries and boosters thrived on the Pacific edge of Western civilization. Manifest Destiny was again in the air.

A focus of special pride was the growing state university in Berkeley. Organized in 1868 as a land-grant institution, it now sought greater stature to match its promise. A stronger faculty and better administration, a more impressive physical presence, and an international reputation were the Regents' agenda.

The place, itself, was a breathtaking hillside with spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate. There were watery ravines, giant oaks, and a grove of eucalyptus trees. But the Victorian campus buildings were a provincial accumulation of Second Empire, Ruskinian Gothic, and a more recent, tepid classicism in masonry and wood. The "Athens of the West," as the University had been called since the 1870s, needed a new configuration to accommodate-and symbolize-its expanding role as a gathering place for objects, information, and scholars to educate the West, the Americas, and the lands of the ocean beyond.

These aspirations led in many directions, including the subject of this exhibition, the international competition held in 1898-99 to determine a master plan for the buildings and setting of the University of California. This ambitious turn-of-the-century exercise was the idea of a recently hired instructor of mechanical drawing, the architect Bernard Maybeck. Its major advocate and co-organizer, Jacob Reinstein-a San Francisco lawyer who had graduated in the University's initial class -was a member of the Board of Regents. The patron who made the whole campaign possible with a generous gift in 1896 was the mining and real estate heiress, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who would become the University's greatest early benefactor.

Robert Judson Clark, Guest Curator


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