Marin County Civic Center

"We will never have a culture of our own until we have an architecture of our own. An architecture of our own does not mean something that is ours by the way of our own tastes. It is something that we have knowledge concerning. We will have it only when we know what constitutes a good building and when we know that the good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the County. Here is a crucial opportunity to open the eyes not of Marin County alone, but of the entire country, to what officials gathering together might themselves do to broaden and beautify human lives."

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Marin County Civic Center, the last commission by Frank Lloyd Wright, is located in San Rafael, California. Groundbreaking for the Civic Center Administration Building took place in 1960, after Wright's death and under the watch of Wright's protégé, Aaron Green, and was completed in 1962. The Hall of Justice was begun in 1966 and completed in 1969. Veterans Memorial Auditorium opened in 1971, and the Exhibit Hall opened in 1976. The 140-acre (0.57 km2) Scettrini Ranch in Santa Venetia was purchased in 1956 for $551,416 for use as the site of the Civic Center and County Fairgrounds. The Marin County Civic Center is a state and National Historic Landmark . The nearby fairgrounds house the Marin County Fair each July.

The selection of Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 to design the Civic Center was controversial. The June 1960 election changed the makeup of the Marin County Board of Supervisors such that, in the following January, the new board voted to halt work on the project and possibly convert it for use as a hospital. However, a poll by the Marin Independent Journal showing overwhelming support for the project pressured board members to change their minds, and construction resumed a week later.

In August, 1970 the Civic Center, which houses the Marin County Superior Court, was the scene of an attempted jailbreak led by Jonathan Jackson, the brother of Black Panther militant George Jackson, demanding the release of the so-called " Soledad Brothers". Jackson released several prisoners in the courtroom and the group took a number of hostages including the presiding judge, Harold Haley. While they were attempting to escape, four people, including Judge Haley and Jonathan Jackson, were killed. The story, which featured dramatic photographs, was carried in newspapers nationally. Black Panther activist Angela Davis was eventually tied to the case, prompting her to go on the run before being caught and ultimately acquitted on charges of supplying firearms to Jonathan Jackson.

Popular culture
The Civic Center was a filming location for director George Lucas's first feature-length film THX 1138 in 1971. Parts of Peter Frampton's 1976 multi-platinum selling live album Frampton Comes Alive were recorded during his performance at the Marin County Civic Center on June 13, 1975. The exterior and interior of the buildings were featured in the 1997 film Gattaca. The Marin Civic Center was pictured in the music video for the song I Need A Doctor by Dr. Dre from his 2011 album, Detox.


13 photos, 2 videos and 2 drawings

Building Activity

  • Ontotext
    Ontotext updated
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov updated 2 digital references
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov updated a digital reference, updated 85 media, updated, uploaded 5 media and added a digital reference
    wpiz flw22 wxaf flw30 vnuh 149973391 52706d9780 z Tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center (part 1) Tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin County Civic Center (part 2)
    about 6 years ago via
  • Antonina Ilieva
    Antonina Ilieva updated
    about 7 years ago via