Bakewell & Brown, Architects (San Francisco, Calif.)Alternative names
Family and Education
Arthur Brown, Jr. was born in 1874 in Oakland, California, the only child of upper middle class parents Arthur Brown, Sr. and Victoria Runyon Brown. Arthur Brown, Sr., was an engineer for Central Pacific Railroad during the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. His position as the Superintendent of the Bridges and Buildings Dept put him in close contact with the powerful leaders of the Central Pacific. Along with his regular work for the railroad, including design of the Oakland Mole and the train car ferry Solano, Brown, Sr. was also the chosen construction manager for the Crocker, Hopkins and Stanford mansions in San Francisco. Brown, Jr. later benefited tremendously from these connections: the Big Four and their families provided him with many commissions throughout his career. Mark Hopkins' son, Timothy Hopkins, was in large part responsible for giving many Stanford University commissions to Brown.
After graduating from Oakland High School in 1892, Brown went on to the University of California (UC), Berkeley to study civil engineering. During his time at UC, Brown met local architect Bernard Maybeck, who was at that time teaching drawing courses in the engineering department. Because there was no formal architectural training at Berkeley, Maybeck, who had been trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, took it upon himself to offer architectural training in the evenings at his home. Other participants in the Maybeck studio were, among others, Julia Morgan and Brown's future business partner, John Bakewell, Jr. Presenting design exercises similar to those at the École des Beaux-Arts (the École), Maybeck was preparing his students to eventually go on to study at the French institution.
Brown arrived in Paris in 1896 with the intent of studying at the École. After passing the entrance exams and completing several general courses, Brown joined the atelier of Victor Laloux, a favorite among Americans attending the school and the former atelier of Bay Area architect John Galen Howard. École training at this time emphasized Imperial Roman, Italian Renaissance, and French and Italian Baroque models, with a particular focus on sculptural decoration. Arthur Brown, Jr. excelled at the École, winning numerous prominent competitions sponsored by the school. Moreover, like many other architects of the time, Brown made his lifelong friends at the École. These connections would prove to be key in obtaining many later commissions. Brown graduated from the École in 1901, achieving the status of Architecte Diplômé par le Gouvernement Français. Brown stayed on in France to continue his training in the Atelier Laloux and to travel through Europe until 1903.
In 1916, Brown married Jessamine Garrett of Seattle, a family friend of Brown's École colleague, E. Frère Champney. The Browns had two daughters, Victoria and Sylvia, and in 1925 the Brown family moved to Hillsborough, CA to the home Brown designed for his wife, naming the estate "Le Verger," or "the grove."
Early Architectural Practice (Bakewell & Brown, 1905-1927)
When Brown returned to the United States in 1904, the Beaux-Arts style was very much in vogue. The "White City" of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, with its Greek, Roman, and Baroque inspired buildings and bountiful sculpture, had popularized the style.
After a brief time with the firm Hornblower & Marshall in Washington, DC, Brown moved back to San Francisco to establish himself in the architectural world of the west. He first found employment in the office of Henry Schulze, working on the Folger Coffee roasting building in San Francisco. A year later Brown was approached by fellow École graduate, John Bakewell, Jr. with an offer to open a firm, and the two young architects joined in practice, opening Bakewell & Brown in 1905. Arthur Brown, Jr. acted as the design partner in the firm, while John Bakewell, Jr. handled the administrative and financial tasks of the firm.
The firm thrived in its early years, largely as a result of the opportunities afforded architects in the rebuilding efforts after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Commissions for houses in Oakland for clients fleeing the ruins of San Francisco were followed by a commission to rebuild the interiors of the City of Paris department store in San Francisco. In 1907, Bakewell & Brown won the competition to design Berkeley City Hall (now the Berkeley Unified School District administration building), for which they designed a building modeled closely on traditional French city halls.
Bakewell & Brown's second success in competition came in 1912. Winning the commission to rebuild the San Francisco city hall, which had been destroyed in the earthquake, was a major accomplishment for such a young firm, and it required a significant increase in Bakewell & Brown's office staff. They invited Jean-Louis Bourgeois, a Frenchman and fellow École colleague, to execute the sculpture program for the building. Bourgeois, a close friend of Brown's, was called back to France to fight during World War I, and, sadly, died in battle in 1915. Other architects and draftsmen that joined the firm early on remained lifelong collaborators and friends of Brown and Bakewell, including John Baur, Edward Frick, Lawrence Kruse, and Ernest Weihe. Upon its completion in 1915, San Francisco city hall was widely accepted as a successful design.
Many significant commissions followed Bakewell & Brown's winning of the San Francisco City Hall competition. In 1913, the firm was hired as the design architect and master planner for Stanford University campus, positions they held until 1942. By 1915 Bakewell & Brown were responsible for the Palace of Horticulture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco as well as the San Diego station for Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. In the following years, they designed the Green Library for Stanford University (1919), the Pacific Gas & Electric office building in San Francisco (1922-1926), the Pasadena City Hall (1923-1928), Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco (1923-1928), and the California School of Fine Arts (1924-1928, now the San Francisco Art Institute).
With this success in practice came the demand for Brown to teach architectural design. From 1911-1913 Brown along with Jean-Louis Bourgeois led an atelier with the San Francisco Architectural Club (SFAC), a group formed in 1901 to provide instruction in architectural design for dedicated draftsmen working in leading San Francisco architectural firms. In 1918, Brown was invited to lecture in architecture at Harvard University, but soon returned to San Francisco, where he resumed his teaching efforts as acting professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, filling in for his friend and colleague, John Galen Howard, who was on sabbatical for a semester in 1919. Although Arthur Brown, Jr. was persistently pursued by University architectural programs, he chose full-time practice over teaching soon after his time at UC Berkeley.
Later Architectural Practice (Arthur Brown, Jr. and Associates, 1927-1950)
The firm of Bakewell & Brown dissolved in 1927, although the two former partners continued to collaborate on many later projects, most notably several buildings on the Stanford University campus. After the dissolution, Brown established his own firm, Arthur Brown, Jr. and Associates, while Bakewell formed Bakewell & Weihe with longtime employee Ernest Weihe.
Though Brown had an active office filled with draftsmen through the early 1930s, with large commissions such as Coit Tower, the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and Veteran's Building, and the United States Department of Labor and Interstate Commerce Commission Building in Washington, DC, the firm suffered through several years of minimal work in the mid-1930s. Though the office continued to produce work, Brown himself spent much of 1934 and 1935 in Europe with his family, returning to a skeleton crew of draftsmen.
Brown also spent a good deal of this phase of his career serving on boards and committees, both local and national, including: the Board of Architectural Consultants for the US Department of the Treasury 1927-1933, the Board of Consulting Architects for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Architectural Commission for the Chicago World's Fair of 1933, Chairman of the Architectural Commission for the Golden Gate International Exposition 1937-1940, and the Board of Consulting Architects to the Architect of the US Capitol 1956-1957.
Friends, colleagues, and influential organizations continually recognized Brown's architectural accomplishments throughout his lifetime. In addition to several awards from the American Institute of Architects, Brown was appointed a Fellow of the AIA in 1930. In 1931, the University of California conferred on Brown an honorary Doctorate of Laws. Brown was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1940 and additionally elected a member of the elite Academy of Arts and Letters in 1954. Brown also became an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1951 in the Architecture Class, and was elected a Member in 1953.
Despite Brown's large commissions in the early 1930s, in the eyes of the architectural profession and much of the general public the Beaux-Arts mode was going out of style, considered stuffy and irrelevant to the needs of people in the Depression. The new architectural trend was Modernism, which was in such contrast to the ideals and traditions of the Beaux-Arts that Brown spent much of the rest of his life crusading against its acceptance. Brown had a particular dislike for architect Frank Lloyd Wright, seen as the main proponent of American Modernism.
Somewhat defeated by the popularity of Modernism, and his own consequent unpopularity, Brown retreated into institutional work in the late 1930s. The last ten years of his career (1938-1948) were spent as supervising architect for UC Berkeley, a position in which he designed many campus buildings but from which he was ultimately asked to resign to make way for an architect with a more Modern aesthetic. Brown retired from practice in 1950, continuing to consult on various projects including the extension of the US Capitol building and serve on boards until his death in 1957.
From the guide to the Arthur Brown, Jr. papers, 1859-1990, bulk 1910-1950, (The Bancroft Library)
The architectural firm of Bakewell & Brown was formed in 1905 by John Bakewell, Jr and Arthur Brown, Jr in San Francisco, California. Bakewell and Brown had been students together at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1897-1901. Arthur Brown, Jr. acted as the design partner in the firm, while John Bakewell, Jr. handled the administrative and financial tasks.
The firm thrived in its early years, largely as a result of the opportunities afforded architects in the rebuilding efforts after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Early architectural projects include Berkeley City Hall (1907), the interiors of the City of Paris department store (1908), and several residences in Oakland. In 1912, Bakewell & Brown won a major competition for the design of San Francisco City Hall. Completed in 1915, San Francisco City Hall remains the masterwork of Bakewell & Brown.
Many significant commissions followed Bakewell & Brown's winning of the San Francisco City Hall competition. In 1913, the firm was hired as the design architect and master planner for Stanford University campus, positions they held until 1942. By 1915 Bakewell & Brown were responsible for the Palace of Horticulture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco as well as the San Diego station for Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. In the following years, they designed the Green Library for Stanford University (1919), the Pacific Gas & Electric office building in San Francisco (1922-1926), Pasadena City Hall (1923-1928), Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco (1923-1928), and the California School of Fine Arts (1924-1928, now the San Francisco Art Institute).
The firm of Bakewell & Brown dissolved in 1927, although the two former partners continued to collaborate on many later projects, most notably several buildings on the Stanford University campus.
From the guide to the Bakewell & Brown photograph collection, 1897-1933, (The Bancroft Library)