Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - banks (buildings); built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Anshen and Allen, Architects (firm); Royston, Hanomoto, Beck and Abey, Landscape Architects (firm); Kaz Abey (landscape architect); William Stephen Allen Jr. (architect); Samuel Robert Anshen (architect); H. Eldon Beck (landscape architect); Asa Hanamoto (landscape architect); Robert Norman Royston (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1969

total floor area: 290,000 sq. ft.

Financial District, San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco architectural firm, Anshen and Allen erected this 290,000-square foot addition to the Bank of California's existing Beaux-Arts Classical building (1908). The Bank of California, a solid, conservative San Francisco financial institution, elected to preserve its own corporate history, safeguarding the Bliss and Faville temple of commerce, although a "higher better commercial use" of the parcel could have been had. The architects chose to allow the temple to remain a volume unto itself, with enough space around it to be seen on three sides. On the temple's existing party wall side, Anshen and Allen erected a 19-story tower, providing the bank the growth space it required. Aesthetically, they muted the skyscraper significantly, allowing the older banking hall to predominate. The new tower was set back from California Street, allowing the temple to protrude. The tower's glazed lobby was intentionally contemporary in style, transparent and light, in direct contrast to the temple's tectonic solidity. The steel-frame shaft of the tower, clad in a pre-cast concrete curtain wall, however, receded from view, its subtle vertical scoring meant to echo the verticality of the temple's Corinthian columns. The two buildings were physically joined, but one played the straight man, the other the dramatic focus.

The landscape architectural firm Royston, Hanamoto, Beck and Abey included a landscaped terrace on the roof of the bank/temple, replacing a skylight and rooftop collection of utility rooms and ductwork. Architectural historian James Marston Fitch noted that this ragtag group of necessary forms had always been hidden from pedestrians: "These had all been set back from the parapet so as to be invisible from the street. But they constituted a kind of visual slum for all the taller neighbors, including, of course, the proposed new tower." With the "visual slum" eliminated, the terrace became an outdoor seating area for the bank's own fifth-floor restaurant. To build the tower, three existing buildings were razed, a bank annex, a three-story neighbor and an early twentieth-century skyscraper on the northeast corner of California and Leidesdorff Streets.

PCAD id: 19467