Mapping the '70s in Northern California


Docomomo US/Northern California


Web resource, Newsletter, California, 70s Turn 50
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In an effort to celebrate and better understand the 1970s, Docomomo US/Northern California has embarked on a project to map the buildings, sites, and landscapes of the era in Northern California. Some of the mapped sites are iconic examples of Modernism in the region (Peiera's Transamerica Pyramid, Portman's Embarcadero Center, Halprin's UN Plaza, and Pelli’s Bank of California, to name a few), while others are more controversial or diverge from Modernism (Moore's Kresge College and the Flintstone House of of I-280). 

Beyond the disco balls, shag carpet, and avocado-colored kitchen appliances, the 1970s were a decade filled with both experimentation and anxiety within the field of architecture. In Northern California—from Big Sur up to Mendocino—examples of Brutalism, New Formalism, and Corporate and Late Modernism continued to proliferate in downtown areas and in suburban office parks throughout Silicon Valley into the 1970s, but the softer, more organic and vernacular influences of Sea Ranch and the Third Bay Tradition are strongly felt in residential projects. In the later half of the 1970s, Postmodernism and historicist influences began to emerge.

The Docomomo US/NOCA map of 70s buildings, sites, and landscapes currently features 150 sites, but is an active and dynamic project—the map will be updated and added to in the coming decade as we learn more about these projects and discover new treasures!

Do you know of a great '70s site in Northern California that isn't mapped yet? Email the Northern California chapter at or fill out the form located below the map to submit a site.