Downtown Center Garage

Applegarth, George A.
Downtown, San Francisco
Building Type:
325 Mason Street, San Francisco, California
Current Name:
Downtown Center Garage/Mason-O’Farrell Garage
Current Use:
Multi-level parking garage with first-floor retail, restaurant, and office use
Current Condition:
Not Listed
Located at the intersection of San Francisco’s Union Square and Theater districts, the Downtown Center Garage is a nine-level, reinforced-concrete parking structure containing approximately 1,000 stalls on 11 levels. Pairs of circular, spiral ramps extend up from the basement to the roof at the southeast corner of the building. The concrete slabs and walls bear the impressions of plywood board forms and the columns of the Sono-tube forms used to create them. The circular ramps are expressed on the exterior of the building as curved and slightly inclined slabs that spiral upward, helix-like, toward the roof. Thin, tubular steel railings wrap around the perimeter of the slabs, providing protection to users as well as a modern decorative motif.

The Downtown Center Garage was constructed at a time when the car was becoming a modern necessity. According to an article in the Architect & Engineer (April 1955), planning studies completed as part of this project indicated that most motorists preferred to park their own vehicle rather than valets. The building was constructed just west of Union Square, augmenting the Union Square Parking Garage. As originally designed the Downtown Center Garage contained 1,200 parking stalls. The only non-parking uses included the lobby and checking stations along the north wall of the building and a service area located on the first floor. The retail storefronts appear to have been inserted sometime in the 1980s.

Image credits:
Rendering: AP news photo, dated January 22, 1954
Postcard: A Mike Roberts Color Production



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