Julia Morgan was the first woman to be admitted to l'Ecole des Beaux Arts and the first woman to receive a California's architect license. Over her career, she was known for her client-centered approach in which she took into the client's emotional and budgetary needs to design. She beautifully integrated the West traditions with Beaux Arts style.
Julia Morgan was born in January in 1872 in San Francisco. After high school, she enrolled to University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1894 as the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree at the school. Upon encouragement from her instructor at Berkeley, she set off for Paris to attend l'Ecole des Beaux Arts. However, the administration never conceived of admitting women so Morgan was rejected. For the next two years, Julia Morgan participated in prestigious competitions in Paris and won most of them. In 1898, l'Ecole des Beaux Arts finally admitted her and she became the first woman to be admitted to the Ecole's architecture program.
Upon returning to the States, she became the first female architect in California and worked for John Galen Howard in Berkeley. In the two years she worked for Howard, Julia Morgan started out with drawing elevations and designing details for the Hearst Memorial Mining Building (1903) and helped design the Hearst Greek Theater (1902-3).
In 1904, Morgan opened her own office in San Francisco. One of her early works was the Oakland's Mills College Bell Tower (1904). Morgan began with private residential projects but after the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906, she took in institutional works in addition to the already busy schedule. These institutional works were mostly for women groups, schools and colleges, and social and community clubs. Morgan worked on over 15 projects for the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), an organization that provided low-income women with housing, job, training, and other assistance. Some notable Morgan's works for YWCA are the Mills College (1904), Asilomar Conference Center (1915) in Pacific Grove, California, and the Berkeley Women's City Club (1930). Morgan designed over 700 buildings in her lifetime. Some other famous works include the William Randolph Hearst's Castle in San Simeon, the Bow Bay House at Lake Tahoe, California, and the Livermore House in San Francisco.
In 1950, Morgan closed her office. She died in February, 1957, at the age of 85.
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