AKA: Shell Oil Company of California, Headquarters, Financial District, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Brunnier, H.J. , Associates, Structural Engineers (firm); Kelham, George William, Architect (firm); Langlais, Charles A., Electrical Contractor (firm); Walker, P.J., and Company, Building Contractors (firm); Henry John Brunnier Sr. (structural engineer); George William Kelham (architect); Charles Alfred Langlais (electrical contractor); Percival J. Walker Sr. (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1929-1930

29 stories, total floor area: 246,000 sq. ft.

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100 Bush Street
Financial District, San Francisco, CA 94104-3902

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Building History

The Shell Oil Company was an international conglomerate formed in 1907 by the merger of Marcus Samuel's London-based "Shell" Transport and Trading Company and the Amsterdam-based Royal Dutch Petroleum Company which had formed to exploit newly found oil supplies on the Dutch-controlled island of Sumatra; this new company had a complex corporate structure, rapidly became vertically integration, and developed far-flung resources. Widely dispersed sources of oil came in handy when some in Romania were lost in World War I and others near Baku in Azerbaijan, were nationalized during the Russian Revolution. With worldwide mass-production of internal combustion engines, Shell became highly profitable during the first two decades of the twentieth century. According to the company's web site, "By the end of the 1920s Shell was the world’s leading oil company, producing 11% of the globe’s crude oil supply and owning 10% of its tanker tonnage. Its fuel quality was high, it was diversifying its product base and had an assured and prolific supply of oil from the Middle East. (See Shell Oil Company.com, "The Early 20th Century," accessed 10/14/2014.) Shell opened its chemical subsidiary in 1929, further boosting its growth.

Shell commissioned the conservative San Francisco architect, George W. Kelham (1872-1936) to design their Pacific Coast headquarters. This tower, like Kelham's Russ Building, shared a similar top and massing as Eliel Saarinen's second-prize-winning Tribune Tower competition entry of 1922. Saarinen's set back, square-topped tower design struck a chord with architects of the 1920s, influencing variants from coast to coast. Kelham's earlier Russ Building (San Francisco, 1927) also reflected Saarinen's influence. P.J. Walker (b. 1875), served as the Shell Building's general contractor, while Charles A. Langlais, was its electrical contractor. Henry J. Brunnier (1882-1971), a well-known San Francisco practitioner, was the structural engineer.

In 2014, Brothers International Holdings Corporation owned the skyscraper.

PCAD id: 513