Celebrate 60 Years of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center: Oct. 13, 2022

Frank Lloyd Wright's concept for the Marin County Civic Center as it appears on the front cover of the 1962 dedication brochure. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Marin County Civic Center in February 1960, distinguished architect Edward Durrell Stone said, “Great periods of history are great only because of the arts they produced. The Marin County Civic Center is a great work of art, the best our times can produce. This will be a place of pilgrimage in years to come. They will come here as they go to see Michelangelo today.”

Image from the Dedication Brochure, Marin County Civic Center. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.
Image from the Dedication Brochure, Marin County Civic Center. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

October 13, 2022, marks the 60th anniversary of the dedication and opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center, including the Civic Center Branch of the Marin County Free Library. In honor of this special and historic occasion, the Library and the County of Marin have organized a free, day-long celebration for the entire community.

The celebration will include docent-led tours of the building, a Civic Center cake-cutting at noon and live music at lunchtime in the cafeteria garden.

There will be a panel discussion about what it’s like to work in a Wright-designed building, architectural photography demonstrations, a building scavenger hunt, a film screening of Gattaca in the Civic Center Library, and much more!

Guests will enter the building past a collection of vintage cars on display, commemorating the special day. In addition, we will unveil 26 new handmade wooden doorstops by a community member who donated them for the anniversary. Several of these doorstops will be used by the Civic Center Library.

Commissioned in 1957, the Marin County Civic Center was Wright’s last and largest public project. When Wright visited Marin County for the first time, he said “You have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this county characteristic of the beauty of the county.” Furthermore, he said, “Here is a crucial opportunity to open the eyes not of Marin County alone, but of the entire country, to what officials gathering together might themselves do to broaden and beautify human lives.”

October 13th Schedule of Events

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Vintage cars will be on display outside the South Arch of the building (across from the Post Office) leading up to the Gold Entry Gates.

10 a.m. and  2 p.m.— Free Docent-led Building Tours
Join our specially trained docents for a special building tour and learn about the complicated and scandalous history of the Marin County Civic Center designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the last major works of Wright’s career and his only realized project for a government entity. Tours meet in the cafeteria, room 233.

11 a.m. – Noon — “Working Wright,” Board of Supervisors Chambers, 3rd floor
Listen to a Panel Discussion with County Staff about what it’s like to work in Wright’s iconic building. Panelists includes Tom Lai, Director, Community Development Agency; Erin Riley, Capital Planning & Senior Project Manager, Department of Public Works; and Mary Sackett, incoming Board of Supervisors member for District 1. The panel will be moderated by MCFL's Carol Acquaviva, the Archivist and Librarian in charge of the Anne T. Kent California Room.

Noon – 2 p.m. — Cake Cutting and Celebration, Cafeteria Garden, 2nd floor, Room 233:
Come celebrate the Civic Center’s 60th anniversary at a special ceremony with cake and cupcakes, live music from the 1960s by the County Crows, and a special proclamation from the Board of Supervisors. The special commemorative cake by Heston Cakes of Terra Linda will be baked in the shape of the Civic Center building with the inside made out of red velvet cake honoring Wright’s favorite color Taliesin Red. The Guests will also receive anniversary items and other surprise gifts.

2 p.m. – 3 p.m. — “Photographing Wright”:
Drop in and join Marin Photography Club experts and learn the basics of architectural photography including creative approaches to composition, image framing, and the challenges of light and shadow. Meet in the cafeteria, room 233.

Excavation and framing of the Marin County Civic Center's Administration Building around 1960. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.
Excavation and framing of the Marin County Civic Center's Administration Building around 1960. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

 3:30 p.m.Gattaca Film Screening, Civic Center Library, 4th floor:

Join us under the dome for a screening of the stirring sci-fi thriller Gattaca and see how the Marin County Civic Center served as a futuristic setting in this cult film. Civic Center Building Conservancy Commissioner Elizabeth "Suki" Sennett will introduce Gattaca and recall her on-site experiences as the movie was being filmed. Sponsored by the Friends of the Civic Center Library.

 All day activities — Civic Center Library, 4th floor:

  • Special exhibit outside the California Room celebrating the history and architecture of the Library and the Civic Center;
  • Take-away craft activities including build your own pet house inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright doghouse along with supplies and instructions to draw your own architectural blueprint.
  • Search for architectural details throughout the building in a visual scavenger hunt;
  • Special “best sellers” display of books and movies from 1962 available for check out from the Civic Center Library.

In addition, the building’s iconic spire will be lit up each night for sixty nights in honor of the 60th anniversary, the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Tour mobile app has been enhanced and is downloadable in the App Store and Play Store, and a special playlist with four hours of songs from 1962 has been created on Spotify to commemorate the occasion (search for playlist Civic Center60, use the QR code below, or visit this link.)

Marin County residents who were born on October 13, 1962, are welcome to stop by between noon and 2 p.m. in the cafeteria garden (or that day in the Civic Center Library) for a gift-bag full of birthday goodies in honor of the celebration.

We encourage you to add the hashtags #CivicCenter60 and #WhereWereYouIn62 to your social media posts for this occasion!

The Civic Center 60th anniversary is generously supported by the Friends of the Civic Center Library, Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy, the Marin Photography Club, Jeff Craemer, and Gustaf Rooth.

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