Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece

Frank Lloyd Wright2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Marin County Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright at the end of his career that’s remains quite remarkable! A living garden grows under a stretch of ribbed glass dome spanning the entire length of the building. Trees & other greenery reach up to gather light while nature’s beauty adorns the spectacular interior. He brought the outside in with plentiful first floor plantings, then illuminated all with natural light & sky vistas. Busy offices & court rooms line either side of the sunlit atrium. An intricate circular theme connects everything.

Wright delivered an enchanting working environment integrated with the lush surrounding hills. The father of modern architecture imagineered a stunning, versatile compound synthesizing required buildings with the regenerative power of nature. His genius endures as generations continue to marvel at his achievements.

The forth floor library at one end of the gently curved, blue-roofed edifice stays open weekends, while the two story arm terminates into 2 gorgeous, round, circle embellished domes, one side quitting sooner than the other. A charming patio with umbrella tables, chairs & quiet entice folks into a private garden retreat. Having never walked the entire inside length, a delightful surprise awaited me outside for it seemed that 2 blue topped, gold ball trimmed space saucers had landed & set up residence.

The process of discovery continued through the spacious cafeteria to another elegantly furnished patio with a rotund pool, fountain & small tributary flowing into vegetation amongst high surrounding views. Located at the angled junction of both wings, 2 spherical blue & gold domes capped this outdoor respite. The tall, tapering golden tower guards the area containing a sweet, modern, monk-like statue.

The compound continues across the street with shooting fountains & graceful pools cascading into shallow waterfalls entering a lagoon that hosts an impressive display of water birds. My favorite place to walk, sit & talk with friends, I love watching flocks of proud geese, iridescent feathered mallards, snow white seagulls & darting land birds as they clean & preen. When not swimming, they pluck insects from the grass.

Young & old thrive on intimate contact with extraordinary wildlife as they swim, fly, feed, bathe & sleep with their beaks under their feathers, some standing on one leg. 3 fountains mid lake keep water circulating. Walking paths, benches, picnic tables, fenced children’s playground, large grassy area & an oval island reached by 2 walkways brings you directly into & around the lake.

A blue domed Memorial Auditorium, honoring courageous armed forces, features live performances. Marin Center Exhibition Hall with grounds & lots of parking provide additional rounded facade buildings that complement the entire complex. Wright coordinated the round roofed, fountained, corner post office (that I’d never noticed until I canvased the property, camera ready) into his design. Even the tree camouflaged fire department has his circular stamp.

When I decided to montage the Marin County Civic Center to showcase my book, “Montage Mirage Photo Tapestries, How To Create Photo Art From Your Heart,” I was inspired by the uniqueness of Wright’s iconic buildings, landscaped grounds & bird filled lake. My sister, Carole, suggested I sell it as a poster. Great idea! Watch for it as it’s coming soon. Now, people around the world who’d never visit, could enjoy the character of this signature treasure.

I am fortunate to live close & celebrate Wright’s brilliance in a phenomenal Photo Tapestry. I portray the story through vivid photos while bringing impressive broad strokes & minute details to the foreground for contemplation, presenting views that may have remained mostly hidden but for my exploration, imagination & pluck to think I could envision an engaging mosaic from a master architect.


Author: Gwen Sarandrea has authored numerous books including Counseling Case Study & The Healing House, The Gift of Dad’s Final Years.  She is also a portrait montage artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gwen has a love of helping people cope with the aging and death of parents and other loved ones. Visit to pick up your copies of Gwen’s books.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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Comments & Responses

4 Responses so far.

  1. Mark Barclay says:

    I love that building! Grew up visiting it on school field trips, and miss having lunch in the cafeteria there. Such an enchanting setting. I miss passing by it on my commute home!

    • It is unique, beautiful & amazing. I’ve really enjoyed taking hundreds of photos & creating an original Montage Mirage Photo Tapestry where people can see many different views of the inside & out even though they may be on the other side of the world. Gwen

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