Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores

Designers: Irvine Ranch Company (firm); Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, (SOM), Los Angeles, CA (firm); Walsh Construction Company (firm); Lauren Carpenter (engineer); John Ogden Merrill (architect); Nathaniel Alexander Owings (architect); Louis Skidmore Sr. (architect); Robert Walsh (building contractor); Thomas Walsh (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1987-1989

34 stories, total floor area: 559,000 sq. ft.

750 B Street
Financial District, San Diego, CA 92101-4605

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Building History

Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Los Angeles designed Symphony Towers for the developer, the Charlton Raynd Development Company. Construction began in 1987 and concluded in 05/1989. The Walsh Construction Company served as the general contractor, while Herrick Corporation of Hayward, CA, was the steel fabricator and builder. Development and ownership of the building changed during construction. Charlton Raynd began as developer, but the property was sold six months before completion to a British investor London and Edinburgh Trust (LET), which held it until LET was sold to a Swedish pension fund, Life and Pensions Sweden (SPP Livförsäkring). SPP upgraded the property and succeeded in attaining a 97 percent occupancy rate in 1994; between 1992-1994, it was named the San Diego "Building of the Year" in its category by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). It was also voted BOMA Building of the Year for the Southwest Region c. 1994. Ownership has transferred since then to the Irvine Company.

Building Notes

Symphony Towers was a large-scale mixed-use development consisting of a 34-story, commercial office building, a 27-story hotel (a 264-room Marriott Suites Hotel), and a connecting structure (containing a five-story parking garage and a sixth floor serving as the hotel's lobby) that spanned the San Diego Symphony's Copley Hall. (Copley Hall, located mid-block, was once the San Diego Fox Theatre.) The developer, Charlton Raynd, purchased air rights above Copley Hall, the first instance where this was done in San Diego. Construction of the trussed center section proved to be a technical challenge. Financing of the hotel portion also stopped for five months complicating the whole process; the trussed center section structurally relied on the two towers, and both needed to be sufficiently high to support the additional load. At its completion, Symphony Towers was the tallest building (499 feet) in San Diego; it was surpassed, however, by construction of the 500-foot 1 American Plaza in 1991. It remained at 499 feet due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules prohibiting buildings of 500 feet or taller this close to Lindbergh Field. The City of San Diego also granted the developer an encroachment permit to enable V-shaped bay windows to hang over the sidewalks. The developer argued that preservation of Copley Hall made this additional office space (creating corner windows for offices) financially necessary.

PCAD id: 17938