What better way to get to know Northern California than by going on a Wright scavenger hunt? Whether you're traveling with your family or friends, you're sure to get a kick out of discovering these architectural treasures.
It can help you save a lot of time down the road if you call and schedule tours ahead of time. Keep in mind that tours are not held every day. Even fewer tours are held on the same dates at different locations.
Start your planning by reserving an early afternoon tour at the Hanna House, which will be your second stop.
Planning gets trickier if you also want to take a guided tour of the Marin Civic Center. If you have to choose between a tour at the Hanna House or a tour at the Marin Civic Center, opt for the guided version at the Hanna House (where you won't get in at all otherwise). You will get just as much information from the self-guided tours at the Civic Center as you would with a guided tour.
The publicly accessible Wright sites in the San Francisco area are somewhat spread out. Although there is no correct order in which to see his buildings, this suggested itinerary can help you see them all in a day.
You can optimize your trip by touring in this order:
Marin Civic Center, 1957
The Marin Civic Center is one of Wright's most ambitious public structures. It's quite large, in fact, this structure with arches reminiscent of aqueducts is visible from the highway.
As you walk through the hallways and courtyards of this building, you may notice that it is filled with symbolism and Wright's statements about the government. The Civic Center is open weekdays. They give guided tours. Get more details, photos, and history about the Civic Center.
The Hanna House, also known as the Hanna-Honeycomb House was designed for Stanford University professor Paul Hanna, his wife Jean and their five children.
It was Wright's first design based on non-rectangular forms. In fact, not a single 90-degree angle exists in this house.
The Hanna House is a part of this guide because it was as a turning point for Wright and marks the start of his success.
V. C. Morris Gift Shop
Located just off Union Square, the V. C. Morris gift shop's distinctive arched brickwork was designed to lure passers-by into the shop's airy interior. The interior design has similarities to the Guggenheim Museum, another of Wright's creations.
More Frank Lloyd Wright Sites in the San Francisco Area
Although not open to the public, you can still drive by these Frank Lloyd Wright houses located in the San Francisco area:
- Arthur Matthews House, Atherton - one of 20 homes Wright designed in 1950
- Hilary and Joe Feldman House, Berkeley: designed in 1939 but built in 1974
- Clinton Walker House, Carmel - as if the brickwork and broad roof weren't impressive enough, this hexagon-based beachfront house also has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean
- Sydney Bazett House, Hillsborough - another hexagonal design utilizing Usonian architectural features
- Buehler House, Orinda - a Usonian design with a utilitarian exterior. Modernists will love the layout and design of this unique home
- Berger House, San Anselmo - this diamond-shaped home was built using a desert masonry technique. It's 14-inch thick walls protect a beautiful interior which took nearly 10 years to design and build.
Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark all over California. If you’re heading to Los Angeles, be sure to check out more famous Wright houses.