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Architecture time machine!

Second year architecture students are stepping into the past with the help of Kennedy Library’s Special Collections. The upcoming exhibit, Atelier Morgan, features an inspiring collection of Julia Morgan’s sketches and drawings. As part of the exhibit, every second year architecture student at Cal Poly participated in the Julia Morgan Symposium, where they had a chance to look through the Morgan Papers to draw inspiration.

Architecture instructors rarely choose the same projects for their students, so this is an opportunity for the students to work on the same subject and explore Cal Poly’s Special Collections, architecture professor Robert Arens said.

“Students will take this opportunity to see the Special Collections and also see this great exhibit,” Arens said. The exhibit opens at Kennedy Library on November 9, 2012.

Faculty selected one of three Morgan projects to focus on for the quarter, having students design structures or create drawings that are inspired by, but not necessarily derivative of, Morgan’s iconic work.

Photo of Cal Poly architecure students review Julia Morgan papers“Everyone’s taking kind of a different approach to it,” Arens said. He described the challenge for students: “How do you fit into an existing context and kind of a revered one? How do you respond to that without imitation?”

And the students’ experience with these revered works has inspired them too.

For architecture student Karin Bjorkman, who is working on a sketch inspired by Morgan’s work at Hearst Castle, access to the Morgan Papers is a special privilege, she said. “It was really touching that they brought it down to us,” Bjorkman said.

For architecture student Eli Beckman, that privilege is also an incredible way to study something first-hand. “It’s a great sort of primary source as to what Julia Morgan’s work looked like,” Beckman said.

The Atelier Morgan exhibit is November 9, 2012 – January 11, 2013, with an opening on November 9 from 3-4pm in the second floor Gallery at the Commons. The opening is followed by The College of Architecture and Environmental Design’s 2012 Hearst Lecture Series featuring Victoria Kastner, historian for Hearst Castle and author of two books: “Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House” and “Hearst’s San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land.” The lecture will be from 4-5pm in the Business Rotunda at Cal Poly.

The architecture students’ Morgan-inspired projects will go on display in the Gallery at the Commons on the second floor of Kennedy Library, January 14 – February 1, 2013.

UPDATE: See photos from the exhibit opening on our Flickr.

Learn more about Kennedy Library’s Special Collections.

More information about the Julia Morgan exhibit is available at Atelier Morgan.

– Victoria Billings