Gattaca and Frank Lloyd Wright do California

One of my favorite films, is Gattaca. From the sleek world in which it is set to the story that it ultimately tells, it is a movie that resonates with me no matter how many times I watch it.

During my recent travels through Northern California, I had the immense pleasure of walking into the world I so much admire in Gattaca; figuratively of course. Gattaca was partially filmed at the landmark Marin County Civic Center designed by my favorite architect: Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ll say nothing of the man he was since some would argue he wasn’t to be admired for his character. In my opinion, the buildings and homes that he designed in his lifetime are truly works of art.

Wright’s Civic Center (his last commission) is perhaps in a category all its own, even for him.  It is vast, unusual, and when it was built – probably groundbreaking. From the slope of its bright blue roof to the round balls that punctuate the design at regular intervals to the perfect atrium space that anchors the building, it is a serene yet truly unusual space. Being inside the Civic Center is sort of like being in limbo. Now it’s neither the past nor the present. It represents a past view of the future that people once held. But it also represents the future that we can’t entirely foresee. It’s sleek and beautiful but timeless. Even its art deco bent seems fresh in 2010. After all, sleek and beautiful have always had their place in society. They are elements which never really go out of style.  It’s why to me, the Civic Center was so perfect for 1962 (the year it was completed) and yet is still so perfect today. The Marin County Civic Center is now a National Historic Landmark.  To me, it’s a crown jewel among the hills of Northern California. And certainly in our collective architectural history. It is free and open to the public during regular business hours and is known locally as the Marin Center. If you find yourself anywhere near San Rafael, California just off Highway 101 – I highly recommend a visit. Most especially if you are a fan of Wright, or the movie Gattaca.

  • September 30, 2010
    Cara

    Love this post! FLW’s work is truly amazing!

  • October 07, 2010

    Gattaca is my favorite movie ever.

    So many reasons why you ROCK, Kirsten. 🙂

  • October 09, 2010

    Timeless is Wright. Uh, I mean “right”. That’s a building I could fall in love with. It’s a bit anti-establishmentand reckless (the colours, the lines) and yet remains completely classy throughout. I don’t know how he does that. I don’t know how he can succeed so brilliantly and so many modernistic architects fail miserably (I could mention the new Scottish Parliament building: http://www.edinburgharchitecture.co.uk/images/jpgs/scottish_parliament_towers.jpg ).

    I guess that’s genius for you. Can’t explain it, can’t miss it.

    (Great photos, Kirsten. Also? You were right to suggest your site as an example of good design a while back. ‘Tis gorgeous indeed).

  • December 30, 2010

    I like your snaps of Marin County Civic Center. They are really good. Got to know about Frank Lloyd Wright after reading your post.

  • March 28, 2017

    I like your snaps of Marin County Civic Center. They are really good. Got to know about Frank Lloyd Wright after reading your post.

    • June 15, 2017

      Thank you so much, Astawa! Lots more posts about FLW coming soon! This year is his 150th birthday!

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