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  • kristinwiley

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan (1872-1957) was recently the first woman to be awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, which recognizes an individual whose work has a lasting influence on the practice of architecture. This is only one of many firsts throughout her life and career. Morgan was born and raised in Northern California and attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1894 with a degree in civil engineering (as the only woman in her class). During her time at UC Berkeley, she was mentored by architect Bernard Maybeck, who encouraged her to apply to the École Des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She was initially denied entry because the school did not accept women; it finally permitted women applicants and in 1898 she was the first to be admitted. After much success at the Beaux-Arts school, Morgan returned to California where she took a job with San Francisco architect John Galen Howard. It was during this time that Howard is reported to have made the infamous comment that Morgan was “an excellent draftsman whom I have to pay almost nothing, as it is a woman.” Subsequently, in 1904, Morgan was the first woman to become a licensed architect in California and opened her own practice. One of Morgan’s most significant works is the Hearst Castle, pictured above. William Randolph Hearst hired her in 1919 to design the retreat overlooking the San Simeon Bay along the Central Coast of California. Julia Morgan paved the way for many and is truly an inspiration for all architects, female and male alike.

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