The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by the famed Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This World's Fair was a celebration of the rebuilding of San Francisco after the great earthquake and fire as much as the opening of the Panama Canal. Maybeck was best know for being a member of the Arts and Crafts Movement He also worked in the Mission style, Gothic Revival, as well as Beaux- Arts Classicism. Educated in Paris, he was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Fine Arts Pavilion design by Maybeck contains a theater and galleries (80,000 sq. ft.) arranged in a semi-circle. This relatively plain building provides a backdrop to the huge Roman fantasy out front. Maybeck believed in the "open use of natural materials honestly stated". He was a pioneer of "green architecture" and sustainable design. The results are building of elegant grandeur that mix historicism and modernity in a pleasing forms with a uniquely California look.