Modernist Maverick
The Architecture of William L. Pereira

This exhibition surveys the architecture, urban planning, and design work of American architect William L. Pereira through images, models, drawings, and plans. The exhibition re-examines the modest spaces he created early in his career and the large-scale structures for which he is largely remembered.

The structures Pereira designed were far-flung and often large in scale, ranging from San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Tower to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the University of California, San Diego Geisel Library to the master plan for California’s Irvine Ranch and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); Marineland of the Pacific to Cape Canaveral; a master plan for Doha—the capital city of Qatar—to the National Medical Center of Iran. Pereira became the first architect for the University of California system and master planned and designed many of the buildings for the University of California, Irvine.

The purpose of the project is to frame Pereira’s practice within the histories of architectural modernism and southern California in the mid-twentieth century. Because Pereira’s career parallels the arc of modern architecture and its focus on iconic form, the evolution and trajectory of his work sheds light on the closing window of the modern movement.

Photography is encouraged in this exhibition. Post and share your images with us on your favorite social sites!

Become a Museum Fan on Facebook and take part in our daily competition throughout August. Answer the question: "What am I looking at?" for the chance to win a prize. A BIG thank you to Scott Mortimore of Mortimore Creative for the images and prose!

Exhibition design by Nik Hafermaas, Uebersee.


A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The book is introduced by Colin M. Robertson with essays by Curtis Fentress, Alan Hess, Thomas S. Hines, Scott Johnson, Geoff Manaugh, JoAnne S. Northrup, and Elizabeth A.T. Smith. Copies are available for $29.99 in the Museum Store. To purchase a catalogue via phone order, please contact Jackie Clay, Manager, Museum Store at 775.329.3333 ex. 106.

This exhibition is originated by the Nevada Museum of Art and curated by Colin M. Robertson, Charles N. Mathewson Curator of Education, Nevada Museum of Art.

Lead sponsorship by the Louise A. Tarble Foundation, E.L. Cord Foundation and Nancy and Martin Cohen. Major sponsorship by Nancy and Brian Kennedy, Susan and Bill Pereira, Reno Orthopaedic Clinic and Volunteers in Art (VIA). Supporting sponsorship by Dickson Realty, Jan and David Hardie, Eleanor and Robert Preger, and RBC Wealth Management. Additional sponsorship by Charlotte and Dick McConnell, MINI of Reno and the Mark E Pollack Foundation.

In-kind support by The Irvine Company, LAYAR, and Fortyonetwenty.

Media sponsorship by KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting.


Related Programs and Events

  • Modernist Maverick: The Architecture of William L. Pereira

    Friday July 26, 2013 / 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    Be the first to see a new documentary about the life and work of architect and planner William L. Pereira co-produced by the Museum and KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting. This 26-minute documentary presents interviews with the essayists, artists, and family members and will air in numerous PBS markets across Nevada and California.

    Tickets are free. Seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 5 pm. Film starts at 5:30 pm.

    Not a Museum Member? Join Today and be our guest at the Members’ Premiere!

  • Members' Premiere for Modernist Maverick: The Architecture of William L. Pereira

    Friday July 26, 2013 / 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

    Members of the Nevada Museum of Art and KNPB Public Channel 5 Public Broadcasting are invited to preview the exhibition during this private event. Live music by The World’s Most Dangerous PARTY Band. Cash bar. Support provided by NV Energy. Free for members of Nevada Museum of Art with valid membership card and members of KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting when presenting the printed invitation. $5 Kids Open Art Studio available from 6 to 8 pm.

  • Architecture writer Alan Hess on William Pereira’s design for the Master Plan of Irvine, California

    Friday August 23, 2013 / 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

    Irvine, California is the largest master planned community in the United States, conceived and designed by William L. Pereira. Architecture writer Alan Hess explains the significance of this design feat.

  • Thomas S. Hines: Southern California Modernisms: ‘Rationalism’ and ‘Expressionism’

    Thursday September 12, 2013 / 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

    Thomas S. Hines, Research Professor of History and Architecture and Urban Design at the University of California, Los Angeles, contextualizes William L. Pereira’s work in the history of Southern California architectural modernisms. Copies of Hines’s important book Architecture of the Sun will be available for purchase. Book signing to follow.

  • John King on the Iconography of Buildings: San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid

    Thursday September 26, 2013 / 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

    John King, longtime San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic, discusses the evolution of iconic buildings, examining the history, reception, and changing feelings about William L. Pereira’s Transamerica pyramid over its 40-year history in San Francisco.

  • RENO DICE ‘13

    Friday September 27, 2013 / 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

    DICE ’13 brings together creatives, artists, and designers for a series of talks by three speakers whose work explores ideas about the future of design. A curated slide slam about the future of Reno rounds out the program, with a reception to follow.

    Visit DICE online for ticket information.

William L. Pereira, Transamerica Corporate Headquarters Tower, San Francisco, California, 1973. Photograph by Barbara Stumm, 2011.

William L. Pereira & Associates, University of California, San Diego Geisel Library, 1970. Photo by Capitolshots Photography.

The Architecture of William L. Pereira