Categorized | design critiques, opinion

Robin Gay McCline’s last designs

September 22nd, 2008 the City of Fresno Historic Preservation Commission accepted the Mid-Century Modernism Historic Context report prepared by Lauren MacDonald. Robin Gay McCline and his wife Sue were present at the meeting. The report include interviews with Gay, features several of his notable works and a short biography. It was a momentous day for him.

back of House #1, facing Lake Hodges

House #1, back of house facing Lake Hodges

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House #1, street view

On the City Hall front steps we talked at length. Gay offered 2 water color paintings as a donation for auction at archop’s anniversary exhibit. With childlike glee Gay also talked about his latest design project. The project was three houses for his family in Del Dios, Escondido, CA. The houses where to replace 3 that had burned in a wide fire. He related how the project had brought back a flood of memories as he tackled a new building code and a design that addressed the dangers of earthquake and wildfires. He loved being back at the drafting table.

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House #2, Lex stands in front

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House #2 - back of house

Three days later Gay passed away. He was honored at the anniversary exhibit were his 2 donated paintings were displayed along with flowers and a memory book. The books cover was pieces of sheet metal from the Snake Wall installation.

In the book 14 architects shared their memories of Gay and condolences to Sue. I delivered the book to Sue during the memorial service that was held at the Fresno Art Museum.

IÂ received a thank you card from Sue. She thanked archop for honoring Gay and for giving the book to the family. They appreciate its design and kind words it contained. Sue said that the book will remain in their family.

Sue also included progress photos of the houses that were the last buildings Gay designed. The same houses we had discussed on the steps of City Hall. It was touching to know that the family is completing these houses and will live in them.

I will not review that designs of these lovely houses at this time. Instead I’d like to let these pictures sink in. But I will say, when I first saw the rear of House #1, I was immediately reminded of the Vanna Venturi House. A postmodern house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, designed by Robert Venturi. But not being familiar enough with Gay’s design a can not say if that similarity is only skin deep.

Below is Gay’s biography from the Mid-Century Modernism Historic Context report prepared by Lauren MacDonald.

Robin Gay McCline (1928-2008)
Born: Frenso, CA
Education: University of California Berkeley, Architecture (1951)

Robin Gay McCline was born in Fresno, California on March 1, 1928. McCline served in the U.S. Army Air Force and attended college on the G.I. Bill. After completing studies in architecture at the University of California Berkeley in 1951 McCline went to work for David Horn as a draftsman from 1951-1956. He worked in the firm of Robert Stevens AIA in 1957. Later that same year McCline started his own firm with James A. Oakes, called James A Oakes & Gay McCline, Associate Architects. In addition to his architectural achievements McCline spent approximately 23 years as an instructor at Fresno City College, between the years 1963 and 2002 teaching courses related to the study of architecture in the schools Technical and Industrial Division. He has also acted as a part-time instructor of watercolor in the Humanities Division (2000-2002). Gay McCline is a renowned watercolorist frequently showing works at local galleries and museums, including the Fresno Art Museum, Plum’s Gallery, Door Gallery and Rollf’s Gallery to name a few.

Gay McCline was a member of the Artist League of Fresno, Fresno Art Museum, and American Institute of Architects. He has been the recipient of awards, including the A.I.A. award of merit in 1962 for his work on the McKinley Medical Center, Fresno, CA, located at 410 W. McKinley; Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award.


Principal Works:

Guarantee Savings Bank, under Robert Stevens (1958)
Torburn Davies Medical Offices, 159 North Thesta, Fresno, Ca (1960)
McKinley Medical Center, Fresno (1962)
Mills Residence 1313 W. San Bruno, Fresno (1958)
Houses #1, 2 & 3 Del Dios, Ca (2008)

This post was written by:

kiel - who has written 140 posts on archop.

Kiel Schmidt is founder and curator of archop

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2 Responses to “Robin Gay McCline’s last designs”

  1. Sue McCline says:

    I was surprised to see Gay’s “last designs” on your website, but I feel very grateful that it was done. I have sent the link to family members. They will all be amazed, too.

    Many thanks!! Your Website is wonderful.

    Sue McCline

  2. Sue McCline says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

    Sue McCline

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