The Phoebe Hearst Competition for Plans for the University of California

[article from] The Mark Hopkins Institute Review of Art: An Illustrated Magazine
December, 1899
, Volume 1, Number 1

Edited by Robert Howe Fletcher
Published by the San Francisco Art Association at San Francisco, California

PROBABLY never before has such a comprehensive scheme been devised and executed for obtaining plans for a set of buildings as that recently completed by Mrs. Hearst in the interests of the University of California. The architects of all the principal countries in the world were invited to compete in the preparation of these designs. The first concours was held in Antwerp last year under the management of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Ninety-eight architects of different nationalities were represented, each under an assumed name or device, and from their plans eleven were selected, the authors being requested to prepare more detailed designs to be submitted in final competition in San Francisco. This concluding concours was held in this city in the beginning of September under the control of the San Francisco Art Association.

There were over a hundred plans ranging in size from three by four feet to seven by ten feet, and great care was taken in mounting them to secure their safety and keep their identity unknown. The jury, which was composed of the well-known architects, Mr. Pascal of Paris, Mr. Wallot of Berlin, Mr. Belcher of London, Mr. Cook of New York, together with Mr. Reinstein of San Francisco, Regent of the University, devoted seven days to inspecting the University grounds and considering the plans. The award was as follows: First prize, $10,000, M. Benard of Paris; 2d prize, $4,000, Howells, Stokes & Hornbostel, New York; 3d prize, $3,000, Despardelles & Stephen Codman, Boston; 4th prize, $2,000, Howard & Cauldwell, New York; 5th prize, $1,000, Lord, Hewlett & Hull, New York. All the prize winners are graduates of the École des Beaux-Arts.

Mr. Benard was born at Goderville, France, in 1844. He held the Grand Prix de Rome and is identified with some of the greatest architectural works in France. His plans involve the removal of the present buildings and the creation of what is practically a new city. The jury seems to have been favorably impressed with the fact that he carefully preserved all the natural features of the site, even to the contour of the ground and the trees. The great feature of Mr. Benard's plan is the arrangement of the buildings. Opening from University Avenue is a grand court around which are grouped some of the educational buildings proper. To the south are two theaters, while east of the square at the end of an avenue upon which face the buildings dedicated to Ancient and Modern History and English, the Library and the Department of jurisprudence, is the Athletic Field, with an Athletic Hall and Gymnasium. North and east of the Athletic Building is the Military Department, and to the west the various club houses. On the rising ground toward Grizzly Peak are grouped the buildings devoted to Zoology, Botany and kindred sciences, including a museum, the peak itself being crowned with an Observatory.

After the award the plans were placed on exhibition to the public in the grand nave of the Ferry Building, where the contours was held, for ten days, following which they were exhibited at the Mechanics' Institute Exposition. It is understood that Mr. Benard will arrive in San Francisco shortly to take the preliminary steps towards the materialization of this vast and wonderful project.


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