AIA Gold Medal 2014


Julia Morgan

For the first time in its history, and posthumously, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), has given its Gold Medal to a woman, Julia Morgan, acknowledging in this way the work of a pioneer who was influenced by the eclecticisms of the early 20th century. Born in 1872 in Oakland, California, Morgan showed a surprising precociousness and talent that allowed her to break many gender frontiers: she was the first woman to study civil engineering at Berkeley, the first to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and also the first to become a registered architect in California. Her beauxartian training would mark her work over the course of five decades, during which she built more than 700 buildings in a broad variety of styles: Georgian houses, neo-Romanesque churches or neo-colonial Spanish style ranches and villas with nuances of Islamic architecture. Among these the most noteworthy was the huge, opulent, almost delirious mansion designed for the press mogul Randolph Hearst, whose life Orson Welles evoked in Citizen Kane. Julia Morgan passed away in 1957, six years after retiring.

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