AKA: American Red Cross, Pacific Branch Office Building, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Baylis, Douglas, Landscape Architect (firm); Dailey, Gardner A., Architect (firm); Steilberg, Walter T., Engineer (firm); Douglas G. Baylis (landscape architect); Gardner Acton Dailey (architect); Walter Theodore Steilberg (architect/engineer)

Dates: constructed 1947-1948, demolished 2001

3 stories

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1550 Sutter Street
Western Addition, San Francisco, CA 94109-5374

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One of the most notable Modern office buildings erected in San Francisco before 1950, its demolition was a scandal for the city; engineer Walter Steilberg (1886-1974), who worked frequently with architect Julia Morgan (1872-1957) consulted with Dailey on the design of the West Coast Red Cross Headquarters.

Building History

This small-scale office building was a decisive foray into Modern design for Gardner Dailey, who made his reputation in the Bay Area designing residences for well-to-do clients. Dailey began his career in the 1920s doing relatively conventional revivalistic designs, but his work, like that of his colleague and rival, William W. Wurster (1895-1973), became increasingly influenced by Modernism during the course of the1930s. Wurster and Dailey would develop a distinctive regional approach to residential design before World War II that combined elements gained from the Mexican and early Anglo buildings of 19th century CA with design precepts garnered from contemporary modern architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto. Their synthetic, regional approach to contemporary design attracted many fans in the museum world and architectural media, making San Francisco Regionalism one of the country's best publicized architectural movements before and after World War II.

This institutional building, however, has little of the vernacular influences of Dailey's residential work, and is quite Modern in its inspiration. Both Dailey and Wurster didn't effectively translate regional design ideas into large-scale buildings. There were a handful of exceptions, most notably, Wurster's Schuckl Cannery (Sunnyvale, CA, 1942), that contained the expansive length, permeability, wood finishes and extensive outdoor living areas of a ranch house residence.

Building Notes

Its interior was filled with furnishings by Knoll. Many Cyclone dining tables by Isamu Noguchi came onto the resale market from this building.


The Red Cross Building underwent alterations before it was razed.


Dailey's American Red Cross Building was razed in 2001.

PCAD id: 5296