Embarcadero Center & Lobby of Hyatt Rgency Hotel
- Portman, John & Associates, Inc
- Financial District, San Francisco
- Building Type:
- 1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, Ca
- Current Name:
- Embarcadero Center
- Current Use:
- Mixed Use
- Current Condition:
- Not Listed
The Embarcadero Center was the biggest single downtown development in any American city since the construction of the Rockefeller Center in New York City. John Portman’s Peachtree Center in Atlanta, Georgia (started in the early 1960’s) established the concepts and architectural prototypes for the Embarcadero Center project. The Embarcadero Center features timeless modern details, including precast concrete facades and tile paving, with plants, fountains, and art throughout. Key to Portman’s proposal was his ‘coordinate unit’ concept, which creates a series of interconnected spaces and blocks, with retail and office uses brought above the street level. The floor tile pattern, created by Heath tile, unites and unifies the 5 block area. The trailing, spilling plants at the vertical openings emphasize the interconnectedness of the levels as well. The spaces are also filled out with mass plantings of low ground cover and bay trees in planters. Low tubs with bright flowers are the only color used. The site is 8.5 acre, with 2.75 million square feet of construction and 200,000 square feet of open space.
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
Bridges spanning the cross-streets allow pedestrians to move freely through the center for 5 blocks, without the interruption of traffic. More than just circulation, these bridges are also hanging plazas, containing seating and planted terraces. Public art is also prevalent throughout, Portman’s goal being to make a “living sculpture garden.”
An example of timeless Modernism, the Embarcadero Center has a well-detailed façade and overall massing. The somewhat insensitive street level base included in the original design has been improved by renovations in the 1990’s, and today it is a lively daytime destination and neighborhood center. It still remains largely intact, however, and is one of the most successful examples of large scale urban renewal in the United States.