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Drake, Gordon Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access Statement
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • System of Arrangement
  • Scope and Contents
  • Custodial History
  • Related Materials

  • Contributing Institution: University of California, Berkeley. College of Environmental Design. Environmental Design Archives
    Title: Gordon Drake Records
    Creator: Drake, Gordon
    Identifier/Call Number: 2012.-15
    Physical Description: 11 Linear Feet: 4 Boxes, 1 Tall Box, 36 Flat File Folders
    Date (inclusive): 1946-1952
    Abstract: The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, and publicity files, as well as notes, specifications, sketches, and drawings for both client driven projects and designs for houses, furniture, screens and arbors. Projects include primarily residences in southern California, Drake's various offices, and projects commissioned for publications such as Sunset Magazine, and Better Homes and Gardens, and Women's Home Journal.
    Language of Material: English .

    Access Statement

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in the collection should be discussed with the Curator.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Gordon Drake Records, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

    Biographical Note

    Gordon Drake (1917-1952)
    Gordon Drake was born March 19, 1917 in Childress, Texas to Pearl and G. Drake. Less than a year after his birth, due to his father serving overseas during World War I, his mother moved to Fresno, CA and later to San Diego with Gordon and his older brother Max. After graduating from high school, Drake spent a year in Hawaii, living and working with his brother who was now married and serving in the Navy. While helping his brother build a home, he received his first look into the world of design and construction. A year later, in 1937, Drake enrolled in the architecture program at the University of Southern California, where he was known for being a dedicated athlete and serious student, who did not do outstanding work. In order to overcome this impression Drake worked closely with his good friend Edward Killingsworth, who, at the time, had the highest academic record in their class. Both graduated from USC in early 1941. While at USC, Drake was influenced by Harwell Hamilton Harris and Carl Birger Troedsson, first as a student and later as a draftsman. Troedsoon instilled in him an unconditional commitment to the socially oriented tenets of modern architecture and Harris provided him with insight into construction and building materials, best suited for California-style indoor-outdoor living.
    In late 1941, Drake married Joanne Richards and a few months later left San Diego as a Marine combat leader for the South Pacific beachheads. While away at war, Drake dreamed of returning to California where he would work to relieve the housing crisis. Before he could do so he received his first professional request for architectural work, a theatre for service men on the island of Maui. Although construction was at a standstill it needed to be completed within a short-time. Drake was asked to take over the job, and three weeks later the Haleakala Theatre was open. In 1946, he was released from the Marine Corps and returned to California where he joined fellow marine and engineer, Louis Soltanofff, and several other friends to put some of their housing ideas to the test. Within four months, the group had purchased a plot of land in Los Angeles and designed, and constructed a house for only $4,500. This basic house for veterans included built-in furniture, and for an extra $300, standing chairs, tables, a bed, and paintings. For their efforts they won the Progressive Architecture First Annual Award. While in Los Angeles, Drake worked to further his design ideas. Now with recognition and exposure for his environmental consciousness, Drake became a visiting critic at USC and also began to produce a plethora of designs for clients. Drake's designs reflected his interest in climate control, materials carefully selected sites, indoor-outdoor living spaces, and structural assemblies.
    Drake's firms had a number of names including Gordon Drake Designs and MADAC Design Associates (Modern Architecture Design and Construction). In 1948 Drake relocated from Los Angeles to Monterey Bay and in 1949 to San Francisco where he opened a small office on Washington Street. Drake credited his success to media exposure and considered it his most effective tool to promote his work. He regularly submitted drawings and sketches of designs for housing and furniture to Sunset Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. In 1951 he began to work for Architect Ernest J. Krump of San Francisco, but kept his small office on Washington for evening and weekend work.
    Gordon Drake died at the age of 34 in a skiing accident at the Sierra Resort in northern California on January 15, 1952. Maggie and Douglas Baylis, friends and fellow designers wrote the "California Houses of Gordon Drake", in 1956, which was reprinted in 2011.
    Source: Parry, Joan and Douglas Drake. "California Houses of Gordon Drake." Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1956

    System of Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into 3 Series: Personal Papers, Office Records, and Project Records.

    Scope and Contents

    Personal Papers are limited and include biographical material and correspondence. Office Records primarily consist of correspondence, publicity files, and non-specific building details. Project Records contain notes, specifications, sketches, and correspondence for specific projects as well as designs for houses, furniture, screens and arbors as prototypes. Projects include residences in southern California, Drakes various offices, and projects commissioned for Women's Home Journal, Sunset Magazine, and Better Homes and Gardens.

    Custodial History

    The records were collected and held by Maggie and Douglas Baylis and given to William Stout to use for a new edition of California Houses of Gordon Drake. The monograph with an introduction by Pierluigi Serriano was published by William Stout Publishers in 2011, after which the collection was donated to the Environmental Design Archives.