AKA: Golden Gateway Center and Sidney Walton Park, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores; built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses; landscapes - parks - urban parks

Designers: Ciampi, Mario J., and Associates (firm); De Mars and Reay, Architects (firm); Diamond, Charles Temple, Architect (firm); Sasaki, Walker Associates (SWA), Incorporated, Landscape Architects (firm); Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), San Francisco, CA (firm); Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons (WBE), Architects (firm); Theodore C. Bernardi (architect); Mario Joseph Ciampi (architect); Vernon Armand DeMars (architect); Donn Emmons (architect); John Ogden Merrill (architect); Nathaniel Alexander Owings (architect); David Perini (building contractor); Donald Patterson Reay (architect); Louis Skidmore Sr. (architect); Peter J. Walker (landscape architect); Robert Wilson (building contractor); William Wilson Wurster (architect)

Dates: constructed 1960-1966

San Francisco, CA

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Building History

Preliminary planning for the redevelopment of this northeast San Francisco neighborhood began in the 1950s, just after the success of the Jackson Square redevelopment of the early-to-mid-1950s. This effort also coincided with the construction of the Embarcadero Freeway and the development of a World Trade Center in the north wing of the Ferry Building. In 1958, San Francisco architect Mario J. Ciampi (1907-2006), working as a consultant to the San Francisco City Planning Commission, prepared plans (unbuilt) that would have created new parklands, parking garages and a circular marina in the vicinity of the Ferry Building, long a landmark on the city's working waterfront. Ciampi took pains to use landscaping to hide the Embarcadero Freeway's concrete structure. An article in the Architect and Engineer in 1958 reported: "The park development would tie in with previously announced plans for the Golden Gateway redevelopment project, in which multi-story office buildings, apartments and parking garages would replace the city's present wholesale produce market area. The double decker freeway being built directly in front of the Ferry Buildingceates esthetic problems which the Ciampi plan proposes to handle with landscaping and the ultimate removal of both wings of the Ferry Building, permitting a vista under the freeway to the bay and leaving the tower freestanding as the well-known landmark for the city." (See "San Francisco's Golden Gateway-Ferry Park Rehabilitation of Ferry Building--Wholesale Produce Area, Architect Mario J. Ciampi," Architect and Engineer, vol. 212, no. 1, 01/1958, p. 24.)

Just prior to Ciampi's redevelopment of the area around the Ferry Building, the San Francisco Office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), prepared a preliminary master plan for the Golden Gateway wholesale produce market area. This Architect and Engineer article made reference to SOM's work: "The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill prepared the Golden Gateway plans with a gift of money from a group of public-spirited San Franciscans known as the Zellerbach-Blyth committee. The city will apply for federal aid for carrying out the redevelopment project." (See "San Francisco's Golden Gateway-Ferry Park Rehabilitation of Ferry Building--Wholesale Produce Area, Architect Mario J. Ciampi," Architect and Engineer, vol. 212, no. 1, 01/1958, p.25.)

A team consisting of the San Francisco developer, the Perini Land and Development Company, two Bay Area architectural firms, Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons in association with DeMars and Reay, and the landscape architectural partnership, Sasaki, Walker and Associates, won the Golden Gateway competition in 1960. The 20-acre urban redevelopment project was completed in 1966. Sasaki, Walker and Associates also worked with Edward C. "Chuck" Bassett of the San Francisco Office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, on the design of a group of plazas at the foot of the firm's Alcoa Buildings.

The project redeveloped the previous produce market area of San Francisco, and was designed to contain high- and low-rise residences, shops, recreation spaces, and large-scale office buildings. Developers constructed the Alcoa Building (1964) on one parcel within the Golden Gateway Redevelopment complex. High-rise buildings within the complex were raised above the street levels on tall concrete platforms. In the case of the Alcoa Building, this platform housed a two-floor parking garage, with a sculpture garden situated on top.

Early on, planners envisioned sculpture integrated into various locations of the complex. A note appeared in the Los Angeles Times in late 1961 soliciting submissions from sculptors interested in selling works for a large sculpture garden: "Brochures of no more than 10 photographs (8x10s) of completed work and no more than two typewritten pages indicating qualifications to enter this international competition must reach the Art Advisory Committee, Perini-San Francisco Associates, 255 California St., San Francisco by Dec. 1 from those wishing to compete for the design of a major sculpture for the Golden Gateway Revedevelopment in downtown San Francisco. The initial stage on the competition is open to all artists. Jurors are Mortimer Fleishhacker Jr., George Culler, Thomas C. Howe and Gordan Woods. (See "Art News this Week," Los Angeles Times, 11/26/1961, p. A19.)

Building Notes

Some sources indicated that the project was not completed until 1967 or 1968.

PCAD id: 5991