AKA: San Francisco City Hall #5, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - city halls

Designers: Bakewell and Brown, Architects (firm); Forell | Elsesser Structural Engineers, Incorporated (firm); John Bakewell Jr. (architect); Arthur Brown Jr. (architect); Eric Elsesser (structural engineer); Nicholas Frank Forell (structural engineer); John Galen Howard (architect); Frederick Herman Meyer (architect); John W. Reid Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1912-1915

total floor area: 237,598 sq. ft.

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1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Located in the heart of the San Francisco Civic Center.

Building History

The San Francisco Board of Public Works appointed architects John Galen Howard (1864-1931), Frederick Meyer (1876-1961) and John Reid, Jr., (1879-1968) as Consulting Architects for the design selection of the new San Francisco City and County Hall in 03/1912. San Francisco had a tradition of grandly-scaled city halls, as Augustus Laver's elaborate 1878 design (demolished in the 1906 Earthquake) underscored. The San Francisco-based firm of Bakewell and Brown won the commission for the highly symbolic building in a widely-publicized competition that concluded in summer 1912. Second place went to the San Francisco firm of Coates and Traver. The new city hall, a Beaux-Arts palace resembling Les Invalides in Paris, was completed in 1915 to coincide with the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition held in the city that year. The City Hall's grandiosity (it featured one of the largest domes in the world) and permanence was meant to symbolize San Francisco's rebirth after the devastating earthquake and fire of April 1906. (The dome stood 306 feet high, and the complex took up two full city blocks.) Bakewell and Brown also completed distinguished city halls in Berkeley, CA, (1908-1909) and Pasadena, CA, (1925-1927). Arthur Brown, Jr., has been credited with the design of this city hall.

Building Notes

Blueprints for the San Francisco City Hall #5 were deposited in the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library.


A large renovation project aimed at shoring up the city hall's seismic weaknesses, was begun after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 10/17/1989. It was completed in 1995. The San Francisco structural engineering firm of Forell | Elsesser participated in this seismic renovation project.

PCAD id: 7455