I take a class at the Kaiser French Campus on Geary Blvd every Wednesday evening. Now painted in earth tones, these buildings at the French Campus were originally painted white to emphasize the structural purity as envisioned by the architect Paffard Keatinge Clay. Paffard Keatinge Clay who now lives and works in Spain, lived in San Francisco during the 1960's and 1970's. He was my design professor at UC Berkeley. I hadn't thought about his class for a long time, but recently I remembered how influential he was during my student years.
Tamalpais Pavillion - Paffard Keatinge Clay
He was passionate architect and had a lot of energy. I know now he cared alot about teaching and his students. A native of England, he talked about building a flat platform to sleep near the giant stone pillars at Stonehenge -- experiencing the power of the site and the making of a structure. He had worked at the giant architectural firm of SOM designing and developing large projects using post-tensioned concrete, a relatively new technique at the time.
While living in the Bay Area, he built a post-tensioned concrete house for his family on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. He invited a small group of students to visit.
It was my first real exposure to an architect using his own home as a laboratory for architecture. Broad flat plans of raw concrete and glass perched on the side of a mountain accentuated the feeling of time and space. The sharp contrast of concrete and nature was accentuated by 0ver-hanging terraced balconies with no railing. The danger of falling intensified the feeling of life. Quite an experience for a young naive student. He served filtered coffee from an hourglass shaped chemex carafe, a design featured in the Museum of Modern Art. Oh this was the life of an architect? I couldn't wait.
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