Julia Morgan was the first woman to be admitted to the architecture program at l'École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman architect licensed in California. She designed many buildings for institutions serving women and girls including YWCA buildings and buildings for Mills College. She is the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal, which she received posthumously in 2013.
After her studies, she returned to San Francisco and, after working briefly for another architect, earned her California architect’s license and opened her own office in 1904. She quickly secured commissions to design homes in the Bay Area, including Phoebe Hearst’s in Pleasanton. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire provided Morgan with ample job opportunities, notably the rebuilding of the Fairmont Hotel, a huge undertaking that she accomplished in just one year.
Morgan was one of the most prolific architects in American history, designing more than seven hundred buildings over her forty-seven-year career.