HISTORY OF THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE|
The Exposition internationale des Arts Decoratifs et
Industriels Modernes of 1925 was only one factor contributing
to the genesis of the Paramount Theatre design.
The thriving renaissance of the fine arts in the
Bay Area provided Pflueger with an unusually gifted
pool of talent upon which to draw. Even more significant
was the architect's enthusiastic appreciation of art and
his ability to select his sources judiciously and interpret
them creatively. His sensitive understanding
of the creative process enabled him to synthesize the
work of various artists into a consistently harmonious
and elegant whole. Although Pflueger, described as a
"rough nugget" by his staff, allowed his designers "free-wheeling
research within the avant-garde" (according to
a former staff member, Michael A. Goodman), he nevertheless
deftly controlled the final result.
Timothy Pflueger was credited by one professional journal as
"responsible for the work of more sculptors and
mural painters in his buildings than any other western
architect ." (Architect and Engineer, June 1941, p. 19)
He engaged the most famous muralist of the time, the
Mexican Diego Rivera (1886-1957),
to paint "The Wealth
of California" for the San Francisco Stock Exchange, and
Rivera later identified Pflueger's most original
concept as his use of the fine arts in his buildings.
"The group he gathered about him achieved a success in
expressing their individual vision of American Society
in a harmony which included the architectonics of the
building." (Rivera, My Art, My Life) Pflueger and
Rivera were boon companions during the latter's stay in
San Francisco from 1930 to 1934, and while Rivera was not directly
responsible for the facade mosaic of the Paramount Theatre,
his influence may be seen in the majestic
monumentality of the two figures in it as well as in its use of earth colors.
[Illustration from a detail of
Rivera's The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, San Francisco
Art Institute. Rivera is seated on the middle of the scafolding with his
back to the viewer and the trio below him includes Paramount Theatre architect Timothy Pflueger.]
At the invitation of Timothy Pflueger, Diego Rivera returned to San Francisco from Mexico in 1940
to execute the Pan American Unity mural at the
Golden Gate International Exposition
for which Pflueger had designed several pavillions and buildings at the Exposition's site on Treasure Island.
The significant, even intimate, relationship between architect and artist is evident in
their correspondence of the period.
The Pan American Unity mural was part of
"Art in Action", an exhibition which gave
the public the opportunity to witness the actual creation of works of art. Pflueger had commisioned
the mural for its eventual display in the library of San Francisco Junior College (now City College of San Francisco),
one of several campus buildings designed by Pflueger. However, two decades
were to pass before the mural finally was erected in
its present home
in the foyer of the Diego Rivera Theatre, a CCSF building designed by Milton Pflueger, Timothy's brother.
Pflueger was an active participant in the artistic life
of the Bay Region not only through his notable patronage
of artists but also through his service as a member of
the Board of Directors of the San
Francisco Art Association
from 1930 until his death. Between 1932 and 1937,
he served as President of the Association. He was, of
course, a member of the Northern California Chapter of
the American Institute of Architects. Since Timothy L.
Pflueger's death in 1946, the firm has been headed by
his brother, Milton T. Pflueger, A.I.A. The still-active
firm, now styled Milton T. Pflueger and Associates,
served as consultant during the restoration of the
Paramount Theatre in 1973.