Unbuilt San Francisco: Twin Peaks Monument

In conjunction with the Architecture and the City festival, the San Francisco History Center presents a selection of original architectural renderings and other images which give inklings of a city very different from the one we know today. We encourage you to come view the exhibition Unbuilt San Francisco: Public Spaces on the 6th floor of the Main Library. What's on the 6th Floor will be highlighting selections weekly to tempt you to visit! The collaborative exhibition includes AIA San Francisco, Center for Architecture + Design; Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley; California Historical Society; SPUR; and, the San Francisco Public Library.  

Seawell's conception from Twin Peaks, circa 1926

Henry W. Seawell (1865-1945)
Post-earthquake artist's conception from Twin Peaks  circa 1926       
oil on board, 11.25 x 16.75”

Seawell taught watercolor and pen-and-ink drawing at the University of California, Berkeley School of Architecture 1906-1916 under John Galen Howard. In the 1920s he taught art at Lowell High School in San Francisco, and this piece is a curiosity: reminiscent of Burnham plan renderings, Seawell’s oil is painted over a Lowell student’s assignment, submitted in the fall 1926 semester.   While Bernard Maybeck is known to have been fascinated with the possibilities of re-designing the eastern slopes of Twin Peaks, this piece is evidence that there were others longing for Burnham’s vision of San Francisco.

Gosling, Maybeck & Merchant's Twin Peaks Monument, 1933

Joseph W. Gosling (1879-1938), for Bernard R. Maybeck (1862-1957) and William G. Merchant
Suggested Illuminated Water Effects of a Monument and Cascade at Twin Peaks 1933       
gouache on board, 18.75 x 23.25”           

New Yorker Bernard Maybeck studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and after 1890 worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hired by the University of California in 1894, he supervised the competition for the Plan of the University, along with designing specific buildings, and in 1899 founded their Department of Architecture. Maybeck counted among his students Julia Morgan, John Bakewell and Arthur Brown, Jr.; another student, Edward Bennett, was responsible for the renderings in the Burnham Plan. Maybeck designed several structures for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and the Palace of Fine Arts is the most familiar example of his work today. In his later years, Maybeck sketched visions of Twin Peaks with water cascades, stairways and stepped waterways winding between structures. His association with Gosling probably began with their earlier work on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Gosling designed ornamental details of lighting standards and fixtures for the 1915 Exposition, as well as for other expositions in the United States and in South America. For sixteen years he was executive designer at General Electric Illuminating Laboratory, and was working on a lighting plan for San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition at the time of his death.

In 1936, the Federal Art Project created detailed models of the Twin Peaks cascade


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