Julia Morgan, FAIA | 2014 AIA Gold Medal Recipient
13 December 2013
Image: Creative Commons
The American Institute of Architects Board of Directors on December 12 posthumously awarded its highest honor, a Gold Medal, to Julia Morgan, 56 years after her death. She is the first woman to ever be given the award. Her legacy will be honored at the AIA 2014 National Convention and Design Exposition in Chicago.
A building technology expert with a forward-looking approach to building materials and construction, Morgan practiced for nearly 50 years and produced a volume of quality work which secured her position as the first great female American architect. Morgan designed more than 700 buildings in a wide range of historic styles, and her most notable projects include St. John's Presbyterian Church (now the Berkeley Playhouse) in Berkeley, Asilomar YWCA in Pacific Grove, CA, and Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. Morgan worked on several buildings on the Berkeley campus, including Girton Hall, the Greek Theater and the Hearst Memorial Complex.
Born in Oakland, CA in 1872, Morgan was one of the first women to study civil engineering at UC Berkeley, where she caught the eye of AIA Gold Medalist Bernard Maybeck and received from him a recommendation to apply for the École des Beaux-Arts. Upon returning to Berkeley, Morgan worked for John Galen Howard to design buildings for UC Berkeley.
Sandhya Sood (M.Arch.), Principal of Accent Architecture + Design in Berkeley, contributed to the success of Julia Morgan's AIA Gold Medal 2014 nomination through her research on the sustainability of Morgan's work. "[Morgan's] recognition as an architect in her own right has been recent, spurred by the Julia Morgan 2012 Festival and the AIA Gold Medal 2014 Award. Morgan’s sustainable design approach from a century ago is still appropriate, and is strongly linked to the Bay region’s geography, culture and climate, giving it timeless relevance," Sood shared in a Berkeleyside article.
A collection of Morgan's work can be found in the Environmental Design Archives at the College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley: http://www.ced.berkeley.edu/cedarchives/profiles/morgan.htm