San Francisco State University, Established 1899, 1600 Holloway Ave. SF, CA 94132

SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#003; July 30, 1999 For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler

San Francisco State looking for its own Gate

SAN FRANCISCO, CA., July 30, 1999--UC Berkeley has its Sather Gate. Stanford has its Oval Memorial Church. But what landmark says San Francisco State University on its campus? While there is the towering Student Center on the quad, Rodger Birt, professor of humanities at S.F. State, thinks the university deserves something grander.

Birt is leading an effort to create an impressive and unique work of architecture to greet the thousands who come to campus and the thousands more who drive by on the busy 19th Avenue corridor in to and out of San Francisco each day.

Birt has launched a worldwide search through a design competition to create a "gate" to San Francisco State.

"What we need is a signature work of architecture for our campus," said Birt, an expert on the history of American architecture. "The thousands who pass by our campus everyday could look at that landmark and always be reminded of San Francisco State University."

Birt, who has a doctorate in American Studies with a concentration in American art history from Yale, came up with the idea for a San Francisco State landmark earlier this year as the university, which was founded in 1899, began to celebrate its centennial. "This is an excellent time to get the ball rolling on a project like this. There is so much excitement at the university right now because we are so proud of turning 100 years old," he said. To find the right proposal for a San Francisco State landmark, Birt has launched a design competition or what he likes to call an "idea competition." He has helped build a Web site that includes everything a designer or architect would want to know about creating an outstanding space at the main entrance to the campus at 19th and Holloway avenues.

The Web contains an overview of the competition, rules and guidelines, registration form, a virtual campus tour and a site map complete with color photos showing the site from different directions and sketches detailing the dimensions of the building site.

In addition, Birt sent nearly 600 fliers about the competition to every American college and university with a design or architecture program. Information also was sent to the chapters of the American Institute of Architects. And the information has been posted on an international architectural design competition Web site.

Birt has been impressed with the response. Since April there have been more than 1,500 hits to the Web site and another 350 direct inquires, either by telephone or e-mail to Birt. "I have received responses from people in Europe, Latin America and Asia. And I have heard from design firms in big cities as well as from first-year architecture students. There are a lot of people who would like to be known as the designer of a landmark in San Francisco," Birt said.

A prize of $1,000 goes to the first place entry and $500 to second place. The competition will be judged by a jury which will include San Francisco State President Robert A. Corrigan, administrators, faculty, alums, students and several Bay Area architects. The design deadline is August 31 and the jury will begin its deliberations in September. The finalists will be chosen in November and a public exhibit of the first and second place designs as well as the other top 25 finishers will take place in January in the S.F. State library.

Once a design is chosen, Birt and university officials will look at ways to get it built. "This will be a timeless gift for both our campus community and the Bay Area," said Birt.


Note to editors: Professor Rodger Birt can be reached at (415) 338-1220 or by e-mail at

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