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Deborah A. Middleton

(b California, Feb 24, 1919; d April 17, 2010).

American architect. An important San Francisco-based architect, Warnecke emerged as the forerunner of contextual modernism in the early 1950s. Contextualism aimed to create a sense of place through a humanistic design approach informed by the pre-existing context of the building’s specific site and the more general locale. This approach was in contrast to pure Modernism, which emphasized non-contextual abstraction without explicit references to architectural history. Spatial volumes, rather than mass and solidity, were highlighted, and buildings evidenced a structural regularity and absence of ornament.

Warnecke was apprenticed in Oakland, CA, to his father who introduced him to the classical Beaux-Arts tradition of architectural design. His formal education in art and engineering at Stanford University was followed by a Masters in Architecture in 1942 from Harvard University, studying under Walter Gropius . Bernard Maybeck and Arthur Brown . worked with Warnecke’s father and became early influences, discouraging Warnecke’s adoption of the Modernist approach to design which dominated mainstream American architecture during the post-World War II era. ...