The Architecture of Suspense: Special San Francisco Edition

Join us for a special edition of Christine Madrid French's presentation on the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the "uncanny" architecture of San Francisco as seen in classics movies, such as Mission Dolores, Fort Point at the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Empire Hotel. This year marks the 65th anniversary of "Vertigo" (1958) and the 60th anniversary of the release of "The Birds"(1963) in theaters. How has the landscape of San Francisco and the Bay Area changed since the 1950s and 1960s? What sites have benefitted from the work of historic preservationists? San Francisco Chronicle architectural critic John King featured Christine's work in this area in a recent article available here: "Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense—and using S.F. to set an architectural mood." 

The inimitable, haunting films of Alfred Hitchcock took place in settings, both exterior and interior, that deeply impacted our experiences of his most unforgettable works. From the enclosed spaces of Rope and Rear Window to the wide-open expanses of North by Northwest, the physical worlds inhabited by desperate characters are a crucial element in our perception of the Hitchcockian universe. As Christine Madrid French reveals in this original and indispensable book, Hitchcock’s relation to the built world was informed by an intense engagement with location and architectural form—in an era marked by modernism’s advance—fueled by some of the most creative midcentury designers in film.

We will discuss Hitchcock with Ms. Madrid French and focus specifically on the buildings and landscapes depicted in and around the Bay Area of California. There will be plenty of time for questions. 

About the Speaker

Christine Madrid French is San Francisco Heritage’s Director of Advocacy, Programs, & Communications. She works closely with the President & CEO, Communications & Programs Manager, Museum and Tour Manager, and the Projects & Policy Committee of our Board of Directors to coordinate preservation goals over different program areas, including advocacy, research, education, communications, and outreach.

Christine Madrid French is a historian and advocate for the study and preservation of American architecture. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a graduate of the University of Utah and the University of Virginia (MArH). She has worked as an historian for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., directed the Modern + Recent Past Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in San Francisco, and most recently served as Director of Development & Marketing at the California Preservation Foundation. At the University of Florida, Christine taught courses at the College of Design, Construction and Planning and co-directed the first statewide survey “Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Florida (1945-75),” which was awarded a Documentation Award for Excellence by Docomomo-US. Over her career, she has raised more than $2.5 million for non-profit causes in art and architecture. Her book The Architecture of Suspense: The Built World in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, focusing on the real-world histories of cinematic structures, was just released by the University of Virginia Press and an excerpt of the Villain’s Lair chapter is featured in the October 2022 issue of Vanity Fair.

Publisher and Book Link

Available from the publisher: