Matsumoto, George

Matsumoto, George

Date of birth: 
1922

Per Triangle Modernist Houses:

George Matsumoto grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California at Berkeley in architecture.  Detained by the forcible relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II, Matsumoto completed his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St Louis MO in 1943.  With a scholarship to attend Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, Matsumoto studied under Saarinen and graduated in 1945 with honors. He worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago and in 1946 he joined Saarinen and Swanson.  

After a year of private practice in Kansas City (Runnells, Clark, Waugh and Matsumoto) he became an instructor at the University of Oklahoma. 

In 1948, Henry Kamphoefner, then head of Oklahoma's architecture program, was appointed first dean of the School of Design at North Carolina State University.  Matsumoto, along with several other faculty and students, left Oklahoma with Kamphoefner to start what became an epicenter for Modernist architecture in the US.

During his tenure at the NCSU School of Design between 1948 and 1961, Matsumoto won more than thirty awards for his residential work which was widely published. He designed a modernist addition to the school, left. In 1961 he returned with wife Kimi and two daughters to San Francisco to teach at the University of California at Berkeley until 1967, followed by a successful private practice. After moving to California, Matsumoto swore off houses because he did not want to “deal with the wives.” 

Matsumoto houses share common characteristics: a flat roof, an unobstructed internal view from one end of the house to the other, terrazzo floors, natural woods for walls and ceilings, mahogany cabinetry, large windows in the rear, and small but highly functional kitchens. 

He is now retired and lives in Oakland CA. In 1996 he gave his drawings and papers to NCSU. 

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