In 1957, the Marin County government embarked upon the development of a 160-acre site for a new Civic Center complex and County Fairgrounds. Frank Lloyd Wright was selected as the Architect for the entire effort by the County Supervisors. The valley site for the Civic Center project contained three prominent knolls. Wright’s vision was to connect their crowns with two long buildings, creating a horizontal line of graceful, rhythmic arches in abstract harmony with the surrounding landscape. The full length of each wing is split through vertically to form an atrium and covered by domed skylights allowing generous natural illumination. This also makes a natural setting for gardens inside the building in which native tress and shrubs of the Bay Area flourish.
Pedestrian corridors are situated along this lightwell with offices located along the outside wall of the buildings. Office partitions are assembled of a lightweight aluminum system which can be relocated due to the changing space requirements from year to year.
The Administration Building is the center of County activities, accommodating meetings of all manner of civic groups. It houses the County's administrative, financial and physical development departments as well as the main branch of the County Library. Art displays are exhibited in various areas by special arrangement of the Marin Museum Association.
The Hall of Justice is designed for requirements of County Judicial functions and houses the courts, law agencies and offices of the Board of Supervisors. Many revolutionary design concepts of courtroom, jury rooms, judges chambers and general judicial space requirements were carefully considered and incorporated into this building.
Construction: The lowest level of recurring arches form the foundation and are of concrete. The arches of the upper levels are constructed of light steel framing covered with metal lath and cement plaster hung from the concrete balconies above them. These suspended arches shield the set-back glass walls from the summer sun and inclement weather. The roof is a thin concrete shell with an integrally colored rubberized roofing membrane and a gold anodized aluminum fascia. Construction of the Administration Building and Post Office were completed in 1962; Hall of Justice construction completed in 1969.Aaron Green’s personal recollections of the entire course of events during the Civic Center’s design and construction were self-published in his 1990 book “An Architecture for Democracy.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
Aaron G. Green, FAIA
Client: County of Marin