Gattaca and Frank Lloyd Wright do California

Gattaca and Frank Lloyd Wright do California

Are you a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright? Of the movie, Gattaca? Maybe you just love architecture? Then this is the post for you!

If you’ve watched Gattaca

Then you KNOW. If you know, you know.

One of my favorite films, is Gattaca. From the sleek world in which it is set to the story that it ultimately tells, it is a movie that resonates with me no matter how many times I watch it. No film is perfect but for me this is a little part of the cinema world that comes about as close to perfect as maybe anything can.

Have you seen the movie?

What does it have to do with California and Frank Lloyd Wright?

Most simply, you can walk into the world that’s so incredible in the movie Gattaca, figuratively of course, when you visit a certain building I’m going to tell you about.

Gattaca was partially filmed at the landmark Marin County Civic Center designed by my favorite architect: Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ll say nothing of the man he was since some would argue he wasn’t to be admired for his character. In my opinion, the buildings and homes that he designed in his lifetime are truly works of art.

The Marin County Civic Center

Wright’s Civic Center (his last commission) is perhaps in a category all its own, even for him. It is vast and unusual. When it was built, it could have been called groundbreaking. It could probably still be called that. For it’s unlike any other building I have ever been in.

From the slope of its bright blue roof to the round balls that punctuate the design at regular intervals to the perfect atrium space that anchors the building, it is a serene yet truly unusual space.

Let’s Go Inside

Being inside the Civic Center is sort of like being in limbo. Today is seems to exist in neither the past nor the present. It represents a past view of the future that people once held.

It also represents the future that we can’t entirely foresee. It’s sleek and beautiful but timeless. Even its art deco bent seemed fresh in 2010 when I visited for the first time. After all, sleek and beautiful have always had their place in society. They are elements which never really go out of style.

It’s why to me, the Civic Center was so perfect for 1962 (the year it was completed) and yet is still so perfect today.

The Center today

The Marin County Civic Center is now a State and National Historic Landmark.  I think it’s a crown jewel among the hills of Northern California. And certainly in our collective architectural history.

It’s also a working government building with business conducted during business hours related to being a citizen of Marin County and Northern California. Offices that seem to be both public and private exist on, seemingly, all floors of the building.

The entire complex includes an 11-acre lagoon, 20-acre park and the Marin Center Auditorium and Exhibition Hall, which hosts large local, regional and national events and exhibits. [source]

Visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Civic Center

The Center is free and open to the public during regular business hours and is known locally as the Marin Center. Tours are on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30am. Call ahead to reserve. The number is +1 415-473-3762.

If you find yourself anywhere near San Rafael, California just off Highway 101 – I highly recommend a visit. Most especially if you are a fan of Wright, or the movie Gattaca.

There is plentiful parking on both sides of the Center. It is conveniently located alongside a fairly major road. The address is 3501 Civic Center Dr, San Rafael, CA 94903.