Bernard Maybeck: Architect With Many Faces


Moonrise at Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts in San francisco, CA
Moonrise at Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts in San francisco, CA. Photo by Robert Mackinlay/Photolibrary Collection/Getty Images

Architect Bernard Maybeck was known for his remarkable diversity. Combining European, Japanese, Nordic, Celtic, and Classical ideas, he inspired the work of Julia Morgan and other leading architects.

Born: February 7, 1862 in New York City

Died: October 3, 1957 in Berkeley, California

Full Name: Bernard Ralph Maybeck

Education and Teaching:

  • 1882-6: Studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris
  • 1894: Became an instructor of engineering drawing for the University of California, Berkeley
  • 1898-1903: Served as the first professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley

Important Buildings:

  • 1899: Hearst Hall, University of California, Berkeley (destroyed by fire)
  • 1902: Faculty Club, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1910: First Church of Christian Scientists, Berkeley
  • 1912: Rose Walk, Berkeley
  • 1913-15: Palace of Fine Arts, Panama Pacific Exposition, San Francisco
  • 1930: Principia College Campus, Elsah, IL

Architectural Styles:


Bernard Maybeck opened a small practice in San Francisco in 1902, where he worked mainly in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mark White.

Career Highlights:

  • 1913: Citation from the American Institute of Architecture
  • 1951: Gold Metal from American Institute of Architecture

About Bernard Maybeck:

After studying in Paris, Bernard Maybeck learned the craft of architecture with the New York City firm of Carrère & Hastings.

His first projects included working on the design team for a couple of Spanish Renaissance Revival style hotels in Florida—the luxury Ponce de Leon and the elegant Hotel Alcaza, both in St. Augustine, circa 1887. Maybeck later moved West, eventually settling in California. 

After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, there was a great need for new homes.

Bernard Maybeck designed many California wood framed houses with high-pitched roofs. Ultimately, he  became known as a master of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

However, Bernard Maybeck's fame was secured when he designed the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. For this project, he borrowed ideas from ancient Rome and Greece to create a grand structure with a colonnade and rotunda.

Learn More:

  • Pursuing Beauty: The Architecture of Bernard Maybeck, documentary by Paul Bockhorst Productions, 2012
  • Bernard Maybeck: Architect of Elegance by Mark Anthony Wilson, Gibbs Smith, 2011
  • Bernard Maybeck: Visionary Architect by Sally B. Woodbridge, Abbeville Press, 2006

Source: Bernard Maybeck entry by David Parry, San Francisco Museum & Historical Society [accessed January 19, 2015]