Crown Zellerbach Building
- Hertzka & Knowles
- Financial District, San Francisco
- 1 Bush Street, San Francisco, California
- Current Name:
- One Bush Plaza
- Current Use:
- Current Condition:
Built as the headquarters of the Crown Zellerbach Corporation, this complex includes an office tower and adjacent low-rise pavilion, set at the center of an intricately designed plaza. Instantly compared to the Lever House in New York City, also by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, it was cited by San Franciscans as the signature building for the downtown future. The twenty-story office tower occupies the east side of the triangular site, with the circular pavilion at the southeast corner. A sunken plaza and undulating landscape elements occupy the remainder of the site. The office tower features an aluminum-framed curtain wall, with light-green tinted windows alternating with darker green spandrel glass. At street level, a glass lobby set on a plinth above the sunken plaza appears to float between columns clad in dark green serpentine. The plaza is a Japanese-influenced composition of dark grey river rock and slate horizontal surfaces and walks, sloped planting areas and a sequence of broad, irregularly curving limestone steps leading up to Market Street.
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
The first true curtain wall building in San Francisco, the design allows glass to extend uninterrupted from floor to ceiling. The service core tower appears as a separate mass from the glass tower, and has been covered in small mosaic tiles, a technique not typically applied over such a large surface. It was also the first San Francisco office tower set in a plaza, which challenged both the conventions of the surrounding stone or terra cotta finishes and the continuity of the street wall downtown. The plaza itself is a sheltered yet inviting space, with a Japanese-inspired composition of sloping river rock, slate, and planted areas.
The Crown Zellerbach Complex set an unequalled technical and aesthetic precedent in glass curtain wall construction, and is arguably San Francisco’s best example of mid-century corporate Modernism. It is not just a glassy column on the skyline, however – the triangular site allowed for the masterful and dynamic composition created by the complementary tower, pavilion, and plaza elements.