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Rock Street, San Francisco

Thomas Church was born in Boston, and grew up in California, in Ojai and Oakland. “He got his B.A degree in 1922 at the College of Agriculture at the University of California. After that, he got his master’s degree of City Planning and Landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1926.” (Thomas Church) Church stayed six months at the American Academy in Rome on a Harvard after he was graduating. And he also traveled throughout Europe. During this time, he studied Italian Renaissance gardens, and Moorish and Iberian Renaissance Spanish gardens, observing their response to a climate which similar to the Mediterranean climate in California. After he returned from Europe, he worked in a city planning office on the East Coast, and he became a faculty at Ohio State University. In 1930, Church returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, and become the special lecturer in the UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture. In 1937, he went to Finland, and he saw new modernist work and site planning by Alvar Aalto, which was influential to his design evolution. He moved back to San Francisco in1932, and he established his practice in The City. In the next year, Church opened his design studio at 402 Jackson Street in San Francisco. He continued to design there until his retirement in 1977. Church made longtime contributions to Architecture Forum, and he shared his design ideas to his design peers and the world. (Thomas Church)
Thomas Dolliver Church also made a hung contribution to the innovation of design. The Neoclassical style was still the prevailing landscape design style When Church started practicing. The education at Harvard and UC Berkeley and his travel experience let him obtain ample training in Classical and traditional Renaissance garden. However, Church became the pioneer of Modernist architecture and he also introduced art movements into landscape design; After the world war two, many designers joined to what later became to be known as the “California Style” of the garden. And some of them also apprenticed in Church’s design studio. (Thomas Church)

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