George T. Rockrise (1916-2000)


Rockrise, George T.

Personal Information

Birth/Death:    b. 25 November 1916 – d. 07 July 2000
Occupation:    American architect
Location:    San Francisco, CA

AIA Affiliation

Member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 1948-decease
Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) 1963

Biographical Sources

American Architects Directories:
Biographical listing in 1956 American Architects Directory
Biographical listing in 1962 American Architects Directory
Biographical listing in 1970 American Architects Directory

Biographical Information:
Contributed by the Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley:
George T. Rockrise, born in New York City in 1917, was the only child of Agnes Asbury and Thomas S. Rockrise, A.I.A. Thomas S. Rockrise, a 1912 graduate of Syracuse University's School of Architecture, was a successful architect in New York City.
Rockrise also attended Syracuse University's School of Architecture, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1930. Upon graduation he worked for several small architectural and construction firms before being named University Fellow in Architecture at Columbia University in 1940. He graduated with his M.S. in Architecture from Columbia in 1941.
The Panama Canal Service recruited Rockrise immediately after graduation and he began working in Panama that year as an architect for the Canal, the U.S. Navy and the Corps of Engineers Office of the Caribbean Defense Command. Returning to the United States in 1945, Rockrise first worked with Edward Stone in NYC (where he first collaborated with landscape architect, Thomas Church) and then transferred to the office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill where he worked directly with Le Corbusier, Niemayer, Markelius and others as a staff architect on the United Nations Headquarters Building. In 1947 Thomas Church invited Rockrise to move to San Francisco and become an associate of his internationally known landscape architecture firm. In San Francisco Rockrise worked along side Larry Halprin and June Meehan on projects including the Dewey Donnell Garden in Sonoma County. He also began teaching architectural design at the U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University.
In 1949, Rockrise opened his own practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Notable projects include his joint venture proposal with L. Halprin and L. Livingston for SPUR titled "What to do About Market Street," Married Student Housing projects for both U.C. San Francisco and U.C. Davis, the U.S. Consulate Building in Fukuoka, Japan.
Rockrise expanded his practice in 1968 to include his associates, Robert Odermatt, Robert Mountjoy and James Amis. They established ROMA, an architecture and planning firm, in 1980. The partnership resulted in several successful projects including Sun River Lodge in Oregon, the Inn at Bodega Bay, and many residences. They were also asked to design the New American Embassy in Manama Bahrain. In 1985 Rockrise retired from ROMA, but continued to work as a consultant and independent practitioner.
In addition to his architectural practice, Rockrise's career was distinguished by his continual and active involvement in several local and Federal public associations and his leadership roles in civic and professional organizations. Rockrise served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department for diplomatic facilities in Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Venuzuela, advised the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lectured at over 20 domestic and international universities, received the Senior Fulbright Scholarship for Urban Design , living in Italy from 1978-79, sat on numerous national and regional honor awards juries and received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the early 1990s Rockrise moved with his family to Glen Ellen in Sonoma County where he passed away in 2000.
Sources: Rockrise, G.T. Biography.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2000 Obituary

Related Records

Partner of William J. Watson
Partner of Benjamin Polk
Son of Thomas S. Rockrise

Archival Holdings

The American Institute of Architects Archives
      Membership file contains membership application, information for AIA's book Mid-Century Architecture in America, Fellowship nomination including supporting statements, publicity material and photograph for Fellowship announcement, candidate biography for election as AIA Vice-President in 1969-1970, announcements, request for emeritus (retired) status.

Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley
Collection Number: 2001-6. Extent: 5 boxes, 1 flat box, 2 flat file drawers. The George T. Rockrise collection spans the dates 1935 - 1991 with the bulk of the records dating between 1950 and 1972. The collection contains some personal documents, such as letters sent to family during Rockrise's years as a Fulbright Scholar in Italy, holiday cards and travel sketches, but is mostly comprised of professional papers, office records and project records.
The documents in the professional papers series reveals Rockrise's diverse interests, active involvement and success in all aspects of environmental design. The majority of projects in the office and project records series were completed by Rockrise as a sole practitioner, often collaborating with landscape architects on projects such as the Donnell Pool House with Thomas Church. These projects range from residences to office buildings, churches, and urban planning projects. The collection contains some work from his time with ROMA, mainly the Charbonneau Development in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Rockrise worked with several notable Bay Area photographers, including Ernest Braun, Morley Baer, Rondal Partridge, Phillip Fein, and Karl H. Riek.
Link to online finding aid: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt3d5nb17s