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Designing with Nature provides a vivid account of a pivotal chapter in the architectural history of Northern California. Set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the documentary examines the work of several major architects who were influenced by Arts and Crafts ideals, as well as by the reformist ethos of the Progressive Era. These designers sought to create an architecture suited to the landscape, climate, and emerging culture of the region. Rejecting Victorian excess and the artificial separation of art and craft, they strove to create an organic architecture based on unified design and harmony with nature. The resulting design sensibility has become emblematic of the region and lives on in the Bay Region Tradition.

Architects featured in Designing with Nature include Bernard Maybeck, Julia Morgan, Ernest Coxhead, Willis Polk, A.C. Schweinfurth, John Galen Howard, Louis Christian Mullgardt, John Hudson Thomas, and Henry Gutterson. The influential Arts and Crafts advocates Joseph Worcester and Charles Keeler are also discussed.

Storytellers seen in the documentary include art historians Robert Judson Clark, Richard Longstreth, Kenneth Cardwell, and Richard Guy Wilson, writers Leslie Freudenheim and Susan Cerny, Swedenborgian scholar James Lawrence, architectural guide John Gaul, and home owners Carol Ann Rogers, Polly Moore, and Marilyn Thomas.

Designing with Nature was written, produced, and directed by Emmy Award-winning producer Paul Bockhorst in cooperation with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. The documentary is narrated by Richard Doyle. Original music is by Paul Morehouse. John Rogers did the principal photography. Major funding was provided by The Ahmanson Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Fleishhacker Foundation. Running time is 86 minutes.

Partial list of structures featured in Designing with Nature:

Joseph Worcester

Joseph Worcester House, Piedmont

Emily Price Marshall Houses and Worcester Cottage, Russian Hill, San Francisco

Willis Polk

Polk-Williams House, Russian Hill, San Francisco

A. Page Brown

Crocker Building, San Francisco

Ferry Building, San Francisco

California Pavilion, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago

A. Page Brown, Joseph Worcester and Others

Swedenborgian Church, aka Church of the New Jerusalem, San Francisco

Ernest Coxhead

St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, San Francisco

Andrew Carrigan House, San Anselmo

Coxhead City House, San Francisco

Coxhead Country House, San Mateo

Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Berkeley

A.C. Schweinfurth

Volney Moody House, Berkeley

First Unitarian Church, Berkeley

Bernard Maybeck

Charles and Louise Keeler House, Berkeley

Faculty Club, University of California

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Berkeley

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

John Galen Howard

Doe Memorial Library, University of California

Sather Tower, aka the Campanile, University of California

Architecture Building, University of California

Gregory-Howard House, Berkeley

Julia Morgan

Berkeley Women's City Club, Berkeley

St. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley\

Suite of Craftsman-style buildings at Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove

Lena and William Dinsmore House, Pacific Grove

Louis Christian Mullgardt

Dormidera Avenue House, Piedmont

Letitia and Ernest Evans House, Mill Valley

Henry Taylor House, Berkeley

John Hudson Thomas

Herbert Leo Dungan House, Berkeley

Locke House, Oakland

Edwin and George Peters Houses, Berkeley

William and Florence Stephens House, Woodland

Henry Gutterson

John and Rebecca Howell House, Berkeley

Charles Mallory Dutton House, Berkeley

Education Building, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Berkeley

Rose Walk Duplexes, Berkeley

Links to Related Sites

Society of Architectural Historians/Southern California Chapter

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association

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