Landmark Design with a Point

Transamerica building; looking up

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One of San Francisco’s most prominent landmarks, the Transamerica building rises to a majestic point 850 feet above the surrounding streets. While the futuristic building is an urban eye-catcher from any angle, the natural beauty of the Pacific impacted its design. In the late 60’s the city planning commission nixed a requested 300 additional feet that might have compromised views of the Bay from Nob Hill.

View of Transamerica building and Coit Tower from Pier 39

The 212 foot spire pyramid shape was also designed with a view towards allowing light and air to reach the streets below in the manner of a towering tree in a city park.

Transam triangles

A prime example of the marriage of design and effective earthquake engineering, its exterior quartz panels are constructed for lateral movement in the event of seismic activity. A 52-foot deep foundation of steel and concrete allowed the building’s upper floor to sway nearly a foot and withstand the World Series Quake of 1989.

transamerica building

It takes all of a thirty-day month to wash its 3,768 windows. Surprisingly, only two elevators reach its 48th floor, but then there’s only so much room at the top  —2,025 cozy feet of space to be exact. The observation deck was closed after 9/11, but four cameras were installed to allow access to a “virtual observation deck” via monitors in the building’s lobby 24 hours a day.

The Transamerica building is both a landmark with a view and a landmark that is a view  —from almost any point in the San Francisco area.

San Francisco Things To Do

The Hotel Vitale-Embarcadero has views of both The Ferry Building and the waterfront and is within walking distance of San Francisco’s most impressive skyscrapers.



6 Comments to Landmark Design with a Point

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