Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Maybeck, Bernard R., Architect (firm); Bernard Ralph Maybeck (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907

2 stories, total floor area: 4,017 sq. ft.

1515 La Loma Avenue
Berkeley Hills, Berkeley, CA 94708

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Born in Anstruther, Scotland, the geologist Andrew Lawson (1861-1952) came to the US from Canada in about 1891. He married Ludovilia Von Jantof (b. 08/1862 in Hungary) in 1889, and they both relocated to Berkeley where he became an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), c. 1896; (Lawson was also naturalized in 1896.) He had the great Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957) design this residence on La Loma Avenue, what he referred to as his "Pompeiian villa." It made extensive use of concrete both for its seismic strength and resistance to fires that often broke out in the Berkeley/Oakland hillsides in summer.

Building History

Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957) designed this dwelling for a renowned professor, Andrew Cowper Lawson (1861-1952), who served as the Head of the Geology Department at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB); Lawson understood the impact of seismic activity on architecture, and requested that Maybeck use a quake- and fire-resistant material, reinforced concrete; (The professor co-wrote an important 1908 geological report on the 04/18/1906 Earthquake for the Governor's State Earthquake Investigation Commission that outlined the extent of the San Andreas Fault, a rift that Lawson spent many years measuring.)

Lawson, like so many UCB professors, was an active member of the Sierra Club, founded in the Bay Area by John Muir.

Building Notes

The five-bedroom, three-bath Lawson House #2 occupied 17,400 square feet of land in 2015.

PCAD id: 5065