AKA: Levi's Plaza, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Gensler, M. Arthur, Jr., and Associates, Architects (firm); Halprin, Lawrence and Associates, Landscape Architects (firm); Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) (firm); M. Arthur Gensler Jr. (architect); Lawrence Halprin (landscape architect); George Francis Hellmuth (architect); George Edward Kassabaum (architect); Gyo Frederick Obata (architect)

Dates: [unspecified]

1160 Battery Street
Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111

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This 1980s office complex received a great deal of pubicity when new, and redefined a humane office environment for the decade. It was located at 1160 Battery Street, in the vicinty of the company's 1869 address at 14 Battery Street.

Building History

A large team of developers, architects and landscape architect collaborated on the planning and design of this office-complex for Levi Strauss and Company. A development team included James Joseph, Gerson Bakar, and Al Wilsey in partnership with the Equitable Life Assurance Society. The architect for the stepped, low-rise new buildings was Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) of Saint Louis, MO. Gensler and Associates of San Francisco, worked with HOK on the interiors of the office buildings and renovated of the 1903 Italian Swiss Colony Wine Warehouse, that became part of Levi's Plaza. Numerous plazas and landscaped spaces were interspersed throughout the headquarters complex, designed by the San Francisco landscape architectural firm Lawrence Halprin.

A 1990 book, New Construction for Older Buildings, said of the Levi's Headquarters complex: "As the rage for blue jeans grew in the 1970s, so did the fortunes of Levi Strauss & Co. As sales grew, the company relocated its corporate headquarters to a high-rise office tower in its hometown of San Francisco, California. But the restrictions of high-rise corporate life chaffed [sic] at the hierarchy and employees of the company who had prided themselves on maintaining a family sense in their business affairs. The company teamed with a local developer to build a new corporate home in which the familial relationships that the company knew best could once again be nourished. The new corporate home is a campus setting of four new buildings combined with the renovation of the former Italian Swiss Colony Warehouse and another brick warehouse on a four block area. The major entrance into the company headquarters us through an atrium framed in blue-painted steel to echo the denim blue of the company's most famous product. The buildings surround (and are surrounded by) parks, plazas, streams, and waterfalls that offer an urban retreat. The park and plaza areas with their animated water elements evoke memories of the 'water course in the Sierras' where the company's products were first introduced. Throughout the complex, there are views and vistas out on the Bay and up Telegraph Hill. The new buildings are set back with the rise of each floor creating numerous balconies that offer spectacular views." (See Peter H. Semallie and Peter H. Smith, New Construction for Older Buildings, [New York: Wiley-Interscience Publication, 1990], pp. 174-175.)

Building Notes

The Levi's Plaza complex sprawled over four blocks of expensive San Francisco real estate.

PCAD id: 2496