Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Tribute to Charles Moore, Architect

I think you have to see architecture. You have to walk in it, around it, sit in's not conveyed all in photos and plans.

Charles Willard Moore, architect, educator, author
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Chares Willard Moore was born in 1925, on Halloween, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. A former school teacher, Moore's mother recognized his gifts early on, and through encouragement in self-education and frequent trips across the United States.

Too young to serve in World War II, Moore instead spent those years as an undergraduate student of architecture at the University of Michigan. There he came under the wing of Dean Roger Bailey, who would expand his cultural horizons. In Ann Arbor, Moore also initiated what would become a lifelong friendship with Dona Guimares, who would eventually become the Home Design editor at the New York Times. Upon graduation in 1947, Moore went to San Francisco, attracted by the "European" qualities of the city, and the legacy of the Bay Region Vernacular. He apprenticed for several offices: Mario Corbett, Joseph Allen Stein, and Clark & Beuttler. Moore was registered as an architect by his 21st birthday.
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Hoping to teach, but not having been to Europe, Moore applied for and was awarded Cranbrook Academy's Booth Travel Fellowship. Between 1949 and 1950, Moore travelled throughout Europe and Northern Africa, where he watercolored, photographed, wrote, and even executed 16mm films of various architectural monuments. At this time, Roger Bailey, back in the United States, left his post at the University of Michigan and went to Salt Lake City, where he established Utah's first architecture program. With his first teaching job waiting for him, Moore left Europe and drove his imported Citroen 2CV to Salt Lake City. Moore reveled in this teaching experience, which he later described as special, because he and his colleagues were able to invent an entire architectural curriculum, without an established orthodoxy to counter their efforts.

Anticipating a draft notice in 1950, Charles Moore enlisted, trained, and was sent to Seoul, Korea, serving as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. Some of his work included the design and construction of simple structures such as schools and chapels. His trips on leave to Japan, however, would profoundly shape his work to come, after experiencing architectural and landscape works of tremendous spirit and subtlety. In the hopes of advancing his own studies, Moore, with the aid of the GI Bill, enrolled at the University of Princeton after discharge. He arrived there in 1954 where he immediately formed important relationships with fellow students who would remain lifelong friends and collaborators, including William Turnbull, Jr., Donlyn Lyndon, Richard Peters, and Hugh Hardy.
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Moore's work at Princeton was influenced by its Dean Jean Labatut, professors Enrico Peressutti, George Rowley, and especially Louis Kahn, for whom he served as a Post Doctoral Teaching Assistant. Moore completed a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in only three years, writing his dissertation on Water and Architecture.raduating in 1957, Moore returned to the Bay Region, where he commenced a remarkable 35-year odyssey of design, teaching, writing, collecting, and travel. He would teach and lead departments at UC Berkeley, Yale, UCLA, and the University of Texas, he would establish seven architecture firms, and write a dozen books, all while indefatigably traveling the world, frenziedly amassing an exuberant collection of folk art and toys.
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While at Berkeley, Moore commenced a collaboration with William Turnbull, Jr., Donlyn Lyndon, and Richard Whitaker. Their firm, MLTW, soon began producing work of international distinction, including Moore's own house at Orinda; small houses and cabins along the California coast, and, most notably, the Sea Ranch Condominium in Sonoma County. (This structure would later be recognized with the prestigious AIA 25 Year Award.) When Moore accepted the chairmanship of the Yale School of Architecture (later to become Dean when the department was reorganized), he continued his collaborations with the Berkeley group, establishing a satellite office in New Haven known as MLTW:Moore/Turnbull. Eventually, however, Turnbull established his own practice, whereupon Moore established a new firm in New Haven, Moore Grover Harper, with William Grover and Robert Harper. This firm eventually grew into Centerbrook Architects and Planners, ultimately settling in Centerbrook (Essex), Connecticut, where today it continues its work.
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In 1975 Moore returned to California, this time to lead the department of architecture at UCLA. In Los Angeles Moore began working with Urban Innovations Group, a teaching practice associated with the school, focused primarily on planning and urban design projects. It was with this firm that Moore completed the Piazza dÕItalia in New Orleans. At the same time, Moore also established yet another independent architecture practice with John Ruble and Buzz Yudell. International in scope, Moore Ruble Yudell, continues to operate in Santa Monica.

At the invitation of the University of Texas at Austin, Moore once again relocated in 1984 to teach in its School of Architecture. In Austin, Moore's collaboration with Arthur Andersson led to Moore/Andersson Architects, which is today known as Andersson-Wise. Among his many distinctions and honors, Moore is the only American architect to be awarded the AIA Gold Medal (the nation's highest accolade in the profession); the Topaz Medallion (which recognizes achievement in teaching and scholarship); an AIA 25-Year-Award for Sea Ranch Condominium, as well as two AIA Firm of the Year Awards. Having coped with diabetes for many years, Charles Moore died in his house of heart failure on December 13, 1993.

I have been in three of Charles Moore's works -

Condominium 1
Sea Ranch, California

Kresge College
University of California, Santa Cruz

Piazza d' Italia
New Orleans, Louisiana

Moore was a master of the theatrical in architecture. His deep knowledge of history was woven into his work. See

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