Maybeck / Hearst Great Room and Gymnasium Frames

Bernard Maybeck designed a Great Room for William Randolph Hearst – how could that combination team up to do ANYthing less than fabulous? The innovative scheme (detailed by Maybeck’s partner and brother-in-law, engineer Mark White) relied on a three-pinned arch made of stacked planks, nailed and through-bolted to keep them in one piece. Basically, the arches look like two big wooden truck leaf springs, used in the ancient cruck framing form. At least two versions of this framing scheme were built in California about a hundred years ago. The first served as the great room in Hearst’s city home until it was dismantled and moved to be Cal Berkeley’s first gymnasium. The second was an incredibly cost effective gym for a Boy’s Club in Oakland. Perhaps so cheap, in fact, that it proved not worth saving for longer than twenty years. A building style that was both wonderful enough for Hearst’s great room -- at the same time that another example could be built for $1/sf -- would still make a fabulous great room, industrial facility, or gym. While copyright laws prevent our simple reproduction of the plans (we have copies of the originals), we are planning to build an updated rendition as our own wood bending shop. One simple, yet elegant, upgrade would involve shuffling the cruck laminae widths and edge detailing. We would love to help you to craft your own rendition.

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