Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2006

Andrea Palladio's Cornaro

How I Became an Architectural Tour Guide

by Article and Drawings by Lucia Bogatay

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Lucia Bogatay; founding OWA member and practicing architect in San Francisco.

5:30 PM: A field trip to the construction site at Lucia and Tom's house will be offered. Those interested will meet at 3533 19th St and walk around the block to 3676 20th Street.
6:00 PM: Snacks and wine
6:30 PM: Presentation

Home of Lucia Bogatay and Tom Wickens
3533 19th St (between Valencia and Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA


How many of you are familiar with Andrea Palladio's work? How many have actually seen any of his buildings first hand? If you have seen them, you can probably guess why I was so delighted to become a tour guide, even though I have NO previous background doing it! The upcoming presentation will focus on my experience of becoming a guide for a tour of the Renaissance Italian architect Andrea Palladio's Villas and churches.

A bit about Andrea Palladio and his Importance

Andrea Palladio, who was without a doubt the most imitated architect of all time, began life in more humble circumstances. He was born as Andrea di Pietro in Padua in 1508, the son of Pietro della Gondola, a miller or perhaps a purveyor of mill stones. All we know about his mother is that she was lame.

He moved as a young boy to the nearby town of Vicenza where he was apprenticed as a stone mason. The position was ideal for moving up through the building trades, and Vicenza was a town where much building was going on. A local aristocrat, GianGiorgio Trissino introduced him to local Humanist circles (and gave him the name Palladio), and took him on several trips to Rome. In the late 1530's Palladio started designing buildings and, following his trip to Rome in 1540, moved quickly to introduce a classical style. In 1546, beating out many more famous and better established architects, he received his first public commission. It was Vicenza's principal civic building, the crumbling gothic Palazzo della Ragione. In these years he also designed several villas and palazzi. However, much of his influence stems from his immensely successful and influential Four Books of Architecture, published in 1570. It describes his work and his practical and restrained approach to design and construction. It includes wonderful illustrations of much of his work (including plans, sections, elevations and dimensions) and practical advice from the architectural principles (how to size an attractive room) and down to earth advice on construction (how to keep out the damp). It was widely translated and spread his influence throughout Europe and America.

We recognize Palladio's work largely from his country villas. The lands around Vicenza had been badly damaged in the war of the League of Cambrai in the early part of the century. In the peace that followed the Venetian hinterland including Vicenza was developed. Land was drained for agriculture, new crops, such as corn and rice, were introduced, and of course new buildings were needed. Although the villas were tied to farms, they were not farmhouses, for the owners lived largely in town and visited their land only periodically: in Spring to plant and prune, in Summer to escape the heat, and in Fall to receive the harvest. The rooms were multipurpose, with portable furniture, to be occupied as the season dictated. In addition, the villa needed to convey the owner's status and power. The Vicentine aristocrats competed with each other, as they did with the Venetian aristocrats who at this time begin to move onto the terrafirma. So the villas were highly visible and usually approached along an axis. From Roman temple architecture, Palladio adapted the columned front, making it, for the first time, part of the private building.

Palladio was apparently a charming man, as well as an incredibly talented and dedicated architect. This affability undoubtedly allowed him to negotiate the greater conflicts of Catholicism and Protestantism and the lesser shoals of Vincentine and Venetian politics. It is fascinating to read about the broad spectrum of his clients and to infer something about them from the design of their villas.

Palladio's career spanned 50 years, during which time he designed several hundred projects, a remarkable number of which survive today (there are still about 20 extant villas) In the early years his work was in Vicenza or the areas of the Veneto close around it. As he became better known, he received more commissions from Venice. It was there, at the end of his career, and as economic circumstances worsened, that he received his religious commissions: the facade of San Francesco della Vigna, the Convent of La Carita, and his two great churches: the imposing monastic church of San Giorgio Maggiore, and the beautiful votive church of Il Redentore (or Church of the Redeemer). He never did get to rebuild the Ducal Palace, however, although he had plans for the project. Through all this, he never lost contact culture of the times, the history, the theory of proportion, and interesting variety of his clients.

Note about the Presentation Location: The meeting will be held in the temporary home of Lucia Bogatay and Tom Wickens. The apartment itself is of architectural interest, having been created from the Southeast corner of the decommissioned 1910 B'nai David synagogue by another of our OWA members, architect Edda Picini, in the early 1980's.

Parking: Parking is difficult in the area, so from the East Bay, we strongly recommend using BART. Parking may be available on Hoff off of 16th, between Mission and Valencia, or 21st between Bartlett and Valencia in the public garage. Note that the unit is entered from the small door on the right of the synagogue, not through them main entrance.

OWA Mentorship Program - Guidelines

by Cynthia Wang
The Organization of Woman Architects and Design Professionals is pleased to announce the OWA Mentorship Program. This program is designed to help members take advantage of the wonderful diversity that is present within our group, from the unique perspective of being women design professionals. The mentorship program is an opportunity for growing professionals to get one-on-one advice from professional volunteers. The program is not an internship program. There is no cost to participate.

Mentors are volunteer professionals who are eager to share their knowledge and experience with students. These mentors are from a diverse range of fields including, but not limited to: architecture, city planning, landscape architecture, design, construction, multi-media and urban design. Their professional experiences encompass: sole practitioners, partners in large multi-disciplinary firms, public sector professionals, fine artists and designers. The mentor provides insight into: the reality of being a design or planning professional; current trends in the design profession; resume and portfolio development; salary negotiation and interview techniques; and careeer objectives and how to achieve them.

Mentees may be interested in a better understanding the profession that they are preparing to enter or already practicing in. The program provides the opportunity to ask questions about the professional and business sides of the profession. Some of the questions may include: asking the mentor to comment on your resume and or portfolio; or discussing alternative professional paths.

The OWA sponsors the mentorship for our member's benefits. OWA encourages our members to maximize the opportunity offered by the mentorship program to get professional advice and expertise from your mentor.

Pairing of mentor and mentee is not automatic. You must sign up by April 1st, 2006 to participate. To sign up either as a Mentor or Mentee, please complete the Mentorship Program Form, print it, and mail it to the following address:

Lisa Lee
375 Fremont Street Stuie 300
San Francisco, CA 94103

Please remember to checkmark the position you are interested in (mentor or mentee).

The OWA Steering Committee does the pairing. A Mentorship Mixer will be planned for May, 2006. We will announce the exact date and time via email and post the information on the website towards the end of March early April 2006. Following introductions, mentors and mentees share in the responsibility of further contacting each other. A mentor and mentee typically negotiate meetings (when, where etc.) Both students and mentors can request a change in match at any time for any or no reason. Please contact

February's Meeting - Universal Design

by Mimi Malayan

Our February 21st meeting drew a crowd of over 40 at Hafele's SF showroom. The speakers were our own Gilda Puente-Peters and her friend and colleague, Richard Skaff. Gilda and Richard provided an update of accessibility regulations, as well as common accessibility problems and resolutions, and a case study. It's always such a pleasure to feature a presenter from OWA.

Gilda Puente-Peters is principal of Gilda Puente-Peters, Architects. She has 25 years of broadly diversified experience in the architectural field, and has specialized for the last 18 years in accessibility and universal design planning, education, design, and construction. She has prepared numerous self-evaluation and transition plans for public and private entities, with an emphasis in cities, counties, educational facilities, commercial and correctional facilities throughout California. Gilda has assisted public entities with long range planning, development of policies and procedures to insure accessibility and usability of their facilities, programs and services by all people including persons with disabilities.

Ms. Puente-Peters has consulted, designed and built many accessible and barrier free environments that incorporate the concepts of Universal Design. She believes in Universal Design, that is that the built environment should be accessible to all members of the community. Currently she is a member of the California Division of the State Architect's Subject Matter Experts Committee to advice in the creation of the State's Access Specialist Program.

Richard Skaff has a 25-year background creating environments accessible to people with disabilities, and is currently the executive director of a new non-profit organization, Designing Accessible Communities.

He started his career in this field when, in 1978, he became the founding Executive Director of the Marin Center for Independent Living. He has served as a Chief Building Inspector for the San Francisco Bureau of Building Inspection. For 9 years he was the ADA Coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. In 1999, Richard was appointed the Deputy Director of the newly created Mayor's Office on Disability, which he helped develop and from which he retired in 2005.

Mr. Skaff has the unique experience of effectively implementing accessibility regulations in public entities. His responsibilities included overseeing the development of access code training for all City departments, development of citywide access policies, project design review and approval and resolution of public complaints regarding physical accessibility within City facilities.

Mr. Skaff has participated as a member on State and Federal code committees, including the United States Architectural Transportation Barriers Compliance Board's Recreation, Passenger Vessel Access Committee; the Access Board's Right-of Way Access Advisory Committee and currently is a member of the California Division of the State Architect's Quality Assurance/ Universal Design Committee.

Photos By Brad Borne

Of Interest: Third Annual Bay-Friendly Garden Tour

Third Annual Bay-Friendly Garden Tour
Sunday, April 30, 2006 10 am - 4 pm

Thirty-four brand new gardens throughout Alameda County make up the 3rd annual Bay-Friendly Garden Tour. This year's free, self-guided tour celebrates the diverse styles of Bay-Friendly gardens - Mediterranean retreats, native plants, edible gardens and garden designed for children. There are six different geographic clusters of garden sites, many of which are entirely walkable and/or bikeable.

For more information and to sign up go to

Steering Committee

Mimi Malayan and Hana Mori are leaving the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee and the membership thank them for their invaluable contributions; especially Hana's coordination of the email and website and Mimi as the newsletter editor and long time OWA experience.

We are actively recruiting for an additional member to the Steering Committee. If you or someone you know of would be interested in helping plan and coordinate the OWA, please contact any of the listed steering committee members below. In addition, to the bi-monthly organization meetings, members meet every other month to plan and discuss OWA events.

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