Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael

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Marin County Civic Center, the last commission by Frank Lloyd Wright, is located in San Rafael, California. Groundbreaking for the Civic Center Administration Building took place in 1960, after Wright's death and under the watch of Wright's protégé, Aaron Green, and was completed in 1962. The Hall of Justice was begun in 1966 and completed in 1969. Veterans Memorial Auditorium opened in 1971, and the Exhibit Hall opened in 1976. The 140-acre (0.57 km2) Scettrini Ranch in Santa Venetia was purchased in 1956 for $551,416 for use as the site of the Civic Center and County Fairgrounds. The Marin County Civic Center is a state and National Historic Landmark<ref name="nhlsum"/>. The Civic Center has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List as a part of ten properties by Frank Lloyd Wright. The nearby fairgrounds house the Marin County Fair each July.


The selection of Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 to design the Civic Center was controversial. The June 1960 election changed the makeup of the Marin County Board of Supervisors such that, in the following January, the new board voted to halt work on the project and possibly convert it for use as a hospital. However, a poll by the Marin Independent Journal showing overwhelming support for the project pressured board members to change their minds, and construction resumed a week later.


In August, 1970 the Civic Center, which houses the Marin County Superior Court, was the scene of an attempted jailbreak led by Jonathan Jackson, the brother of Black Panther militant George Jackson, demanding the release of the so-called "Soledad Brothers". Jackson released several prisoners in the courtroom and the group took a number of hostages including the presiding judge, Harold Haley. While they were attempting to escape, four people, including Judge Haley and Jonathan Jackson, were killed. The story, which featured dramatic photographs, was carried in newspapers nationally. Black Panther activist Angela Davis was eventually tied to the case, prompting her to go on the run before being caught and ultimately acquitted on charges of supplying firearms to Jonathan Jackson.

Popular culture

The Civic Center was a filming location for director George Lucas's first feature-length film THX 1138 in 1971, exterior and interior of the buildings were featured in the 1997 film Gattaca, and was pictured in the music video for the song I Need A Doctor by Dr. Dre from his 2011 album, Detox.

Parts of Peter Frampton's 1976 multi-platinum selling live album Frampton Comes Alive were recorded during his performance at the Marin County Civic Center on June 13, 1975 and "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded his October 2, 1999 live concert video at the Marin County Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

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