AKA: 1 Maritime Plaza, Financial District, San Francisco, CA; One Maritime Plaza, Financial District, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Sasaki, Walker Associates (SWA), Incorporated, Landscape Architects (firm); Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), San Francisco, CA (firm); Edward Charles Bassett (architect); John Ogden Merrill (architect); Nathaniel Alexander Owings (architect); Hideo Sasaki (landscape architect/urban planner); Louis Skidmore Sr. (architect); Peter J. Walker (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1964

25 stories

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300 Clay Street
Financial District, San Francisco, CA 94111

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The Alcoa Building anchored part of the large-scale urban renewal project, the Golden Gateway, planned by Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons and DeMars and Reay, during the early 1960s. This Miesian skyscraper, set atop a two-floor parking garage, featured external cross-bracing that would be employed by later buildings by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, most notably at the John Hancock Center (1968) in Chicago. SOM's San Francisco Office designed the Alcoa Building to fit within the Golden Gateway development, which featured highrises set atop elevated platforms. atop a pedestal model employed here was popular for many highrises in the 1960s and 1970s, but did not stimulate life on the street advocated by such writers as Jane Jacobs.

Building History

In 1960, two allied San Francisco architectural firms--Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons and DeMars and Reay, won a drawn-out and well-publicized competition for a 20-acre redevelopment of what was the run-down produce market district of the city. Their plan created a mixed-use neighborhood consisting of low-rise housing, high-rise apartments, office skyscrapers and retail spaces. The architects positioned high-rise elements of the plan on platforms set above the street level. This office building for the Aluminum Corporation of America (Alcoa), placed atop a tall concrete foundation (housing parking), fit within this general scheme.

The top surface of the Alcoa Building's raised plaza accommodated a garden filled with contemporary pieces of sculpture. The prolific landscape architectural firm of Sasaki, Walker and Associates completed the design in 1967.

The real estate investment trust, Equity Office Properties Trust, bought 1 Maritime Plaza in 1997.

Building Notes

The office tower itself contained 25 floors, but was raised on a two-story base containing a parking garage.

The book, Multi-Storey Buildings in Steel (1978), said of the cross-bracing on the exterior of San Francisco's Alcoa Building: "Stiffening of this building is obtained by means of heavy lattice bracings in front of the facades. These bracings also co-operate with the intermediate columns in transmitting vertical loads." (See F. Hart, W. Henn, H. Sontag, Multi-Storey Buildings in Steel, (London: Granada Publishing, 1978) p. 216.)


In 2003, Equity Office Properties Trust commissioned SmithGroup Incorporated to design and supervise seismic renovations that could enable 1 Maritime Plaza to survive a 7.7-magnitude earthquake.

PCAD id: 23347