William Wilson Wurster
1895, Stockton, California
1973, Berkeley, California
A student of Bernard Maybeck and a tireless advocate for interdisciplinary education, William Wurster garnered considerably less transcontinental fame than other Modernist architects of his era. Yet in the San Francisco Bay Area Wurster emerged in the 1920s as the region's household name in everyday modernism.
There Wurster mixed his Beaux-Arts training with an emerging interest in the more pared-down forms of the International Style. This meant that his houses, including the eponymous 1928 Gregory Farmhouse in Scotts Valley, were neither traditional nor avant-garde for their time, but somewhere in between.
Wurster was also known for his contextual approach, taking into account a site's topography, views, and winds. As a result, critics often deemed Wurster's houses more livable than those designed by his European counterparts, who approached architecture as a more conceptual, rather than practical, art form.