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I was going through SFGate.com's home section archive and found this great piece by R.W. Apple, Jr. (the New York Times' architecture critic), originally published in that paper in 2003:

"Westward the course of empire takes its way," wrote the 18th century Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley, so the 19th century founders of a little city directly across the bay from San Francisco, almost at the western extremity of the American empire, chose to name it after him.

Many famous men and women have walked its streets -- Ernest O. Lawrence, the remarkable physicist who invented the cyclotron; Clark Kerr, who helped develop the nation's best statewide system of higher education; Mario Savio, the leader of the radical Free Speech Movement during the turbulent 1960s; and in our own day Alice Waters, arguably the nation's greatest restaurateur.

Another -- too little known, at least beyond Northern California -- is the architect Bernard Maybeck, a precursor of the modern movement like Otto Wagner in Vienna, Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, Victor Horta in Brussels and the brothers Charles and Henry Greene in Pasadena.

Much that he saw and so brilliantly succeeded in grasping still stands today in Berkeley, on and near the campus of UC Berkeley and in the hills above it, in the north side neighborhood where Maybeck lived for most of his life (1862-1957). More than anyone else, he made Berkeley one of the nation's architectural treasure-troves.

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