Homsey, the lead architect (from 1972-2000) for the San Francisco based firm of Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis (EHDD), is a founding principal of the firm, and at 80 years old, has a body of work spanning a 55 year career. His work is present in private, public, academic, urban, suburban, and rural projects. Homsey's designs elevate landscape and simple materials to a high level of artistry that has a restorative effect on individuals and communities who experience it. Homsey has been described as the "towering master of simplicity."
Homsey's commitment to place, and to challenges unique to the urban landscape, is especially evident in two Bay Area EHDD projects. In contrast to the small-scale Rubin House stands the Hermitage (1983), an expansive and elegant seven-unit condominium atop Russian Hill. Homsey and the residents worked closely to translate neighborhood feelings into a modern building that carries forward a legacy of quality without simply copying an existing motif.
Reflecting the vernacular of building types found along the North Coast of California is The Sea Ranch. Homsey's semi-urban demonstration houses and general store (1965) is the widely acclaimed product of a rural challenge: designing a comfortable, pleasant, and ecologically sound environment. The consistent use of certain forms and materials became commonly known as The Sea Ranch Style. Homsey applies similar design principles to a non-urban setting, with the Fallen Leaf project in the Lake Tahoe Basin, which blends traditional elements and modern impulses.
The Snow Park and Silver Lake Centers at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, where the use of windows services the views and light, are typical of EHDD's design approach. The result is a contemporary version of a rustic lodge that appears indigenous, as if it had always been there.
One of Homsey's partners, Peter Dodge, FAIA, states that, "George has influenced me profoundly. He keeps his colleagues focused on what he finds important, keeping work simple and doing it right." Another one of Homsey's partners, Joe Esherick, FAIA, once stated that when Homsey developed the Bart stations in the 1960s and 70s, "George looked at that project and asked, 'What do people want to experience from these buildings, and are they the things that get you where you want to go?'" The same ideas of movement and function in the Rubin House are also found in Homsey's design of transportation terminals.
The Design Award jury who selected Homsey for the Maybeck Award stated, "George Homsey greatly deserves this award. The work of his firm, EHDD, is greatly respected. He is a major figure in Bay Area architecture. His attention to materials, detailing, and love of the process in making buildings is respected by his peers and many people he has mentored in his office, and is much appreciated by his clients. He is a great choice for this award!"
Homsey states, "For me, design has an inner motivation. I get stimulated by the problem or the people. An elusive thing compels me to keep working to find out what I'm getting at. I have to start with simple schedules and figure out relationships." Indeed, his singularly contemplative approach to design enhances relationships between human beings in a way that is like Homsey's work itself, unique.
Future generations will appreciate his respect in preserving landscape and architectural traditions. Homsey is a frequent lecturer and a member of numerous professional organizations that are tied to nature and community. He is currently producing design guidelines for Yosemite National Park.
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