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Male, US, born 1898-02-21, died 1992-09-05

Associated with the firm network

Born, Ernest, Architect

Professional History


Draftsman, John Reid, Jr., Architect, San Francisco, CA, c. 1923.

Draftsman, John Galen Howard, Architect, San Francisco, CA, c. 1923.

Draftsman, George Kelham, Architect, San Francisco, CA, c. 1923.

Designer, Gehron and Ross, Architects, New York, NY, c. 1928.

Designer, Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, New York, NY, (working on the Empire State Building, New York, NY, c. 1929-1931).

Designer, Corbett, Harrison and MacMurray, Architects, New York, NY, c. 1930-1931; Born worked with Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954) and Wallace K. Harrison (1895-1981) on the early design development of Rockefeller Center, New York, NY, c. 1930-1931.

Principal, Ernest Born, Architect, New York, NY, 1931-1936; on his own in New York, he worked on exhibition design, interior design, and advertising design for the Century of Progress World's Fair, Chicago, IL, 1933, and for Rockefeller Center, c. 1931-1936. He also acted as an advertising consultant to architectural products companies including the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), H.E. Fletcher Company, Chase Copper and Brass Company and Corning Glass Company. Born became a familiar figure in Bay Area architectural circles from the 1937-1960s, renowned for his draftsmanship. As he had done in New York, he collaborated with various firms, that of William W. Wurster (1895-1973) and Theodore Bernardi (1903-1990), for one; with Wurster and Bernardi, Born did design work and presentation drawings for the projected United Nations Center in San Francisco, CA, in 1945.


Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Department of Architecture, Berkeley, CA, 1951.

Professor, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Department of Architecture, Berkeley, CA, 1952-1958 and 1962-1974.

Professional Activities

Born was an accomplished designer and illustrator; organizers of the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) commissioned from Born murals illustrating the San Francisco Bay Area's leading businesses. According to his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, the critic Allan Temko wrote of Born: "[He] was not only the grand old man of San Francisco architecture but one of a generation that learned to draw with disciplined splendor when buildings and cities could still be seen as romance." (See "Ernest Born," San Francisco Chronicle, 09/09/1992, p. A16.)

Director, San Francisco Planning and Housing Association, 1945.

Member, San Francisco Art Commission, of the City and County of San Francisco, 1947-1950 and a subsequent term in the 1960s.

Director, San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco, CA, 1947-1951.

Professional Awards

Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA), 1955.

Academician, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, 1980. (See "Academicians: Architects," National Academy of Design 162nd Annual Exhibition, March 24-April 29, 1987, [New York: National Academy of Design, 1987], n.p.)

The University of California, Berkeley (UCB), College of Environmental Design Archives has maintained the Ernest and Esther Born Archival Collection, spanning 1924-1985; it noted of the collection: "The Ernest and Esther Born collection contains six series, and is comprised of two primary parts: Ernest Born’s personal and professional papers and the records of his practice including design, exhibit, and building projects; and the architectural photographs of Esther Born." (See University of California College of Environmental Design Archives, "Ernest & Esther Born [1898-1992 & 1902-1987],"Accessed 08/10/2011.) A collection of 15 lithographs (dating from 1930-1931) by Ernest Born were archived at Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, New York, NY.



A.B., Architecture, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Berkeley, CA, 1922.

M.Arch., University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Berkeley, CA, 1923. Born traveled in Europe, during 1924-1928, and attended the École Americaine des Beaux-Arts, Fontainebleau, France, in 1928. (The Seattle architect Paul Thiry [1904-1993] attended the same school a year previously.)


In 1900, Ernest was an infant living in an apartment in San Francisco, CA, at 218 Turk Street; the family seems to have rented out space in the apartment to two single men. In 1910, the Born Family lived at 270 11th Street, Oakland, CA; the family lodged two boarders at the time to make ends meet, both of whom worked as waiters (probably in the Borns' Oakland restaurant). The Borns resided at 1166 Haight Street, Apartment D, San Francisco, CA, in 1920. In 1928, the newlyweds Ernest and Esther Born lived at 1246 La Playa Street, San Francisco, CA. They lived in New York, NY, between 1928-1936. He worked for various firms here, opened his own office (1931-1936) and served on the editorial staff of Architectural Record (1933-1934) and Architectural Forum (1935-1936). He returned to the Bay Area in 1937. His last residence was in the 92104 zip code of San Diego, CA.

His father, Louis E. Born (born 04/1873 in MN), worked as a restaurant waiter in 1900, owned a restaurant in 1910, and, ten years later, again worked as a waiter in a restaurant. Louis Born's parents were both German. (Lewis's mother may have been from Berlin.) Ernest's mother, Kate Ferguson Born (born 04/1874 in Scotland), maintained the household. Her lineage was Scottish, and, according to the sometimes inaccurate US Census data (for 1920), she became a naturalized US citizen in 1898. The 1900 US Census stated that she first immigrated to the US in 1894. Louis and Kate married c. 1895, and had two children, one of whom died during childhood.

Ernest Born married the architect and noted photographer Esther Frances Baum Born (born 05/31/1902 in Palo Alto, CA- d. 05/02/1987 in San Diego, CA). Esther Born became well-known for her architectural photography in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated with a B.Arch., University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, in 1926. Both Esther and Ernest Born studied at Berkeley during the tenure of the scrupulous, Beaux-Arts-trained Dean, John Galen Howard (1864-1931).

He and Esther Baum Born had one daughter. At his death, Born also had two grandchildren, then living in San Diego, CA.

The University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design Archives summarized Born's career: "An accomplished artist as well as architect, Born’s designs include exhibits, murals, and building design for the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, residences, warehouses, offices, and showrooms. Later in his career, Born participated in the design of the Glen Park BART station and authored the design standards for 33 BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations. He also did editorial and design work for the Architectural Record and Architectural Forum magazines, as well as rendering designs for other firms, designing furniture, painting in oils and watercolor, and creating illustrations and art prints. Born was a professor in the UC Berkeley School of Architecture, a member of the A.I.A. He devoted a decade to the design and illustrations of the book the Plan of St. Gall with author Walter Horn." (See University of California College of Environmental Design Archives, "Ernest & Esther Born [1898-1992 & 1902-1987],"Accessed 08/10/2011.) Walter Horn was, like Born, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley (Born in Architecture, Horn in Art History), and the two collaborated on the design of Horn's Point Richmond, CA, House (1949) and two research projects, The Barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at Its Granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu St. Leonard (1965), and The Plan of St. Gall (1979), which won numerous awards for its depth of scholarship and painstaking artwork and typography. SSN: 561423356. Born was described on his World War I Draft Registration Card as being tall, with a slender build, blue eyes and brown hair. Ernest and Esther Born traveled to Europe several times; Ernest went alone c. 1924, returning from Le Havre to New York, NY between 06/10/1924-06/20/1924 aboard the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique's S.S. Suffren; they sailed from Le Havre, France, to New York, NY, between 10/10/1928-10/16/1928 on the S.S. Ile de France. He arrived in Plymouth, England from New York, NY, on 06/03/1960.

Associated Locations

  • San Diego, CA (Architect's Death)
    San Diego, CA

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  • San Francisco, CA (Architect's Birth)
    San Francisco, CA

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PCAD id: 2220