F L Wright Civic Center

Marin Civic Ctr. inside atrium

Marin Civic Ctr. inside atrium

There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright building you can see from the freeway, about 18 miles (29 km) from the Golden Gate Bridge.  For 20 years I zoomed by it.


A national and state historic landmark, the Marin Co. Civic Center is a complex of buildings Wright designed–administrative county buildings.


An American architect, Wright (1867-1959) designed mostly residential or commercial buildings.  One of his last major designs, these are his only governmental buildings.  See the complete list of his 425 works below.


Marin Civic Center.jpg

The Marin Co. Civic Ctr. as seen from Hwy 101. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The main building includes the Hall of Justice, Administration Building, county library, and other departments. There are nearby additional buildings including a post office and auditorium he designed.


In the mid-1950s, Marin County moved forward on their project to consolidate their county services in one place. They were built in the 1960s, just after Mr. Wright had passed away.


Marin Co. Civic Center

Marin Co. Civic Center

More Civic Center information here.


On weekdays the complex is a busy county government seat where lawyers, judges, and jurors conduct civic duties.


Marin Co. Library front desk

Marin Co. Library front desk

The day I was there was a Saturday and much of the building was closed, but the library was open.


We were meeting friends nearby, so we looked around.  They also give docent-led tours.


Library stacks

Library stacks

I loved the library.  The rotunda is a white dome, and all the light fixtures, in perfect Wrightesque fashion, were also little white domes.


He envisioned his buildings in the rolling California hills providing a place of beauty dedicated to “a working public.”


Looking out from the library

Looking out from the library

An expression of his belief in government openness, the building is flooded with light from skylights and open atria.


Busy creating art until his final day, Frank Lloyd Wright drew stunning and innovative designs all over the country.


Frank Lloyd Wright, 1926. Courtesy Wikipedia

May we all live such long and successful lives, providing beauty and originality around us.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted.


For more Marin Co. Civic Center building photos and plan drawings, click here.



Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Marin Civic Ctr, by FLW. Courtesy Wikipedia

List of over 425 works by Frank Lloyd Wright, click here.

Info about Frank Lloyd Wright, click here.




Ollantaytambo, Peru

Ollantaytambo, Peru; background: Andes Mtns.

There’s a small old town hidden in a valley amidst the Andes Mountains in southern Peru called Ollantaytambo.  It is on the train route to Machu Picchu and most people do not stop here, but oh, what a wonderful place it is.


Approximately 37 miles (60 km) from the city of Cusco, Ollantaytambo (pronounced oyan-tay-tam’-bo) rests at an elevation of 9,160 feet (2,792 m).  It has an extensive history dating back to the 15th century, and provides a rare look into the Incan empire.  For more history on Ollantaytambo, click here.


Incan site, Ollantaytambo, Peru

Incan site, Ollantaytambo, Peru

When you visit here now you have the unique opportunity to walk through the ancient Incan sites, learning about a vanished culture, appreciating their architecture and craftsmanship.  Simultaneously a visitor can experience the activities and culture of the 21st century, strolling along the cobblestone roads, observing the vegetables and fruit that locals are selling beside the internet cafe. There are only a few such sites that still exist–including here and Machu Picchu–that offer a broad look at the Incan empire.


Ollantaytambo wall with some handholds still in place

Incan-built wall with a handhold (upper center) still in place

Most impressive is the architecture.  In the 15th century, local stones, often granite or limestone, were rolled up earthen beams on wood ramps; then cut with stone, bronze or copper tools.  Stones were usually split along the natural fracture lines.  Each large piece of stone weighing 500-2,000 pounds was moved via handholds, set into place, and then the handholds were shaved off creating a smooth wall.  Amazingly, the stones were laid without mortar and still, to this day, the walls have no fissures or gaps between stones.  Incan architecture is a vast subject, read more here.


Many people headed for Machu Picchu do not spend time here, which is why I liked it so much.  There is a peace among the narrow stone alleyways and the towering ruins.

Neighboring tow of Pisac, infant of working mother

Local infant protected in the shade


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

Ollantaytambo woman

Ollantaytambo woman


Wandering alpacas at our hotel, Ollantaytambo

Grazing alpacas at our hotel, Ollantaytambo