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Obituary
Francis Violich

14 September 2005


Francis Violich, professor emeritus in city and regional planning and in landscape architecture and a founder of the Telesis Group, which lent a progressive status to city planning in the Bay Area, died Aug. 21 of natural causes at his home in Berkeley. He was 94.

Born to Croatian parents in San Francisco in 1911, Violich, who grew up in a home a few hundred feet south of Golden Gate Park, credited his interest in landscape architecture to his mother's passion for gardening and her affinity for the environment.

He graduated from Berkeley in 1934 with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. Following graduate studies at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the landscape architecture and city and regional planning faculties at Berkeley in 1941. He served as chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from 1962 to 1964.

In the late 1940s and '50s, Violich helped found Telesis, which the American Planning Association has lauded as the "first volunteer-based group to bring multiple fields together successfully in a comprehensive approach to environmental development in a regional context." Telesis also laid the groundwork for the establishment of Berkeley's city and regional planning department in 1948 and the formation 10 years later of the College of Environmental Design, which included the departments of city and regional planning, visual studies, landscape architecture, and architecture.

Violich published his first book, Cities of Latin America: Planning and Housing in the South, in 1944. It was considered the first comprehensive work on planning and housing in Latin America, and after its publication Violich was invited by what became the Organization of American States to start an exchange program on urban planning in the region.

His second book, Urban Planning for Latin America: The Challenge for Metropolitan Growth, was co-written with Robert Daughters, the head of the urban development section at the Inter-American Bank in Washington, D.C. Published in 1987, it drew upon decades of their work applying U.S. methods to the needs of Latin American cities as they evolved into vast metropolitan regions.

In Violich's 1998 book The Bridge to Dalmatia: A Search for the Meaning of Place, he examined post-war reconstruction, environmental eco-history, planning of urban areas in Croatia, and particularly the environmental cultural identity of people along Croatia's Dalmatian coast. Today there is an active exchange program between the urban-planning departments at Berkeley and the University of Zagreb in Croatia, where Violich spent a year in 1979 on a Fulbright Fellowship. (His earliest research in Dalmatia began in 1937.) Violich launched the exchange program in 1996, contributing royalties from his Dalmatia book, and he vowed to leave his Dalamatian research collection to UC Berkeley.

Violich, who retired from Berkeley in 1976, is survived by his sister, Clementine Nelson of San Francisco, and by a brother, John Violich of Kentfield. He is also survived by three sons: Antonio Violich of Watsonville, Frano Violich of Boston, and Mario Violich of Venice, Calif.; daughters Carmen Violich-Goodin of Berkeley and Francesca Violich Arango of Coconut Grove, Fla.; and 13 grandchildren. Violich's wife, Mariantonia Sanabria Violich, died in 1989. The couple was married for 43 years.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Francis Violich Dalmatian Fellowship Fund, in care of Berkeley's Department of City and Regional Planning, 228 Wurster Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1850, Attention: Malla Hadley, Management Services Officer.

A campus memorial will be held at the Faculty Club from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30.

- Kathleen Maclay