Monday, July 17, 2006

one bush street

photo credit: friskypics.comI’ve driven by Bush and Market countless times but somehow I failed to really notice the stunning modernist building that occupies its corner until a visit today. Designed by the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Hertzka & Knowles in the mid-1950s for Crown Zellerbach and completed in 1959, One Bush Street is certainly one of the most elegant modern towers ever created.

SOM is most likely the preeminent architectural firm in the country. Formed in Chicago in 1936 they have designed hundreds of landmark buildings around the world. Some you may be familiar with include:

Lever House, New York (1952)
John Hancock Center, Chicago (1969)
Sears Tower, Chicago (1973)
Davis Symphony Hall, San Francisco (1980)
Time Warner Center, New York (2004)

photo credit: ccsI lack the vocabulary to fully describe the Crown Zellerbach building and can only hint at some of its distinctive features. Most striking are its walls of glass, and it was San Francisco first such tower. However, despite the abundance of glass, steel and aluminum, the building does not seem massive or overpowering. A small, glass lobby allows the 20-story building to float (an effect repeated at 650 California St), and its 13-acre lot allows it to be well set back from the street.

True to its modernist routes, form follows function and its interior spaces are spectacular. Offices are column-free as steel girders span each floor and the stairs and elevators are concentrated in a service tower.

Bonus link 1: view more shots of One Bush Street on flickr
Bonus link 2: visit friskypics
excellent collection of SF architecture photos