Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 15, 2022

Red flags, part 3

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

I’m going to tread really lightly here because even though there seems to be the desire to attribute the full design of the maritime school to Harry Bruno it doesn’t appear that the man himself has ever taken credit for designing the maritime school. So I don’t want to take anything away from Harry Bruno, the architect, to discredit this particular nomination because it’s clear that, over his extensive career, he has done a lot of work that has been recognized; particularly his work at Jack London Square. But it’s really important that Harry Bruno also is not posthumously recognized for work that he did not do simply to stop another project.

The first indication that Harry Bruno probably did not design the maritime school can be found in the nomination itself. In the photographic exhibits there is a resume for Harry Bruno with unknown sourcing:

The nomination dates the resume as 1945 but, of course, that date has to be wrong because the Trans International Airlines Building in Oakland was designed in 1968 and is the last project listed on the resume itself. You’ll notice that under the “Projects” section the maritime school is not listed. Not one single building or the entire project itself. All of the other project are ones that are fairly easily identified as being completely designed by Harry Bruno which he, rightly, claims credit for. The only place where the maritime school is listed is under “Architectural Practice” and he has himself listed as the “on-site architect.” According to Archsoup a “site architect” is defined as

A site architect is tasked with managing construction projects on site, and this maybe via regular site meetings or on very large projects a permanent placement located on the actual site until its completion.

So, essentially, a project manager.

Then we have Harry Bruno’s application to the American Institute of Architects when he applied for fellowship status in 1971 or 1972 (starts on page 8 of the PDF) one of the requirements is to list projects which the nominee attests that they were (1) solely responsible for the design, (2) largely responsible for the design, or (3) design was under the direction of the nominee. The list submitted by Harry Bruno did not include the maritime school even though, arguably, it is larger in scope than any of the projects he did list:

Similarly a 1956 and 1962 AIA directory listing for Harry Bruno did not include the maritime school as a project listing, only that he was the “Super. Archt” which, I assume, is “Supervising Architect” and points to a project management capacity and light revisions than true design work.

Additionally you can see the list of “Gen. Types” on both entries of work that the architect specializes in. In both 1956 and 1962 Harry Bruno never listed number 11, which is “Military Structures” and which the maritime school would fall under.

And finally, Harry Bruno is probably most well known for his work designing restaurants at Jack London Square, he received an award for the design of his Jack London Square restaurants from the AIA so these are easily his most famous works or work that he considers the best of his projects. He listed three of those Jack London designs on his fellowship nomination. You can find images here of the two restaurants and how they would have looked when Harry Bruno first designed them: the Grotto and Sea Wolf. A postcard of Boatel can be found here and a brochure here. However, these projects may be the finest of Harry Bruno’s works but they have not been recognized for their historic significance by the National Register, California Historical Landmarks, or even by the City of Oakland itself.

TL;dr: it doesn’t look like Harry Bruno ever claimed to have designed the maritime school and never takes credit for it on any of his resumes, member directory blurbs, or when he is filing for a fellowship with the AIA. Additionally the work he is most famous for is not distinctive enough for special recognition alone even in the city itself where the buildings are placed. An argument for the significance of Harry Bruno as an architect — if he did design the maritime school which he did not — is a stretch.

5 Comments »

  1. Didn’t you read Hirshberg’s comments? All your research has essentially proved Harry Bruno designed the school even if draftsmen did the details. That is the way projects are done. The buildings are clearly attached to historic events – WWII and the Korean War, both of which were significant to the history of Alameda.

    The hateful attacks on Carmen Reid will have no effect on the application. The better tact might be to claim the buildings are not of any historical value, lack physical integrity, and are not an outstanding example of a period , style, or architectural movement, like the barracks near Alameda City Hall West.

    Comment by Good Swimmer — June 15, 2022 @ 6:48 am

    • Hirshberg’s opinion is about as worthy as yours, Denise. Why would any of us give a shit about what either of you have to say about anything when you are both consistently and vigorously on the wrong side of literally EVERY issue ever?

      Comment by Rod — June 15, 2022 @ 6:57 am

    • I must have missed where Ed Hirshberg had specific knowledge about how WWII buildings were designed and how any of his, anecdotal, information refuted the contemporaneous articles which said the designs were done by Coast Guard engineers in Washington.

      But it interesting that providing information about the errors of the nominating party’s application is some how viewed as an “attack.” The victim complex is strong among some people.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 15, 2022 @ 7:11 am

      • Indeed it is…..

        Comment by And they say irony is dead... — June 15, 2022 @ 7:41 am

    • I don’t see hateful attacks on Carmen Reid, although she would deserving of them after posting pictures of children in a poor and misguided attempt to smear a facility providing needed services for them because they have a link to the construction of this much-needed project on this land in question. Carmen Reid is contemptible in her constant pursuit to deny homeless seniors the housing and care they deserve. And don’t get it twisted. This isn’t an ad hominem. It’s just the objective reality.

      Comment by Zeke Bowler is Jay Garfinkle — June 15, 2022 @ 10:07 am


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