- Pereira, William L. and Associates
- Financial District, San Francisco
- Building Type:
- 600 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California
- Current Name:
- Pyramid Center
- Current Use:
- Commercial Use
- Current Condition:
- Not Listed
Constructed from 1968 – 1972 to house the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, the Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest building west of the Mississippi at the time of its construction. The building is 853 feet tall, including a 212 foot spire and remains the tallest building in San Francisco today. Architect William L. Pereira designed the Pyramid in the post-World War Futurist style, showcasing a bold urban form, innovative technology, and Space Age trends. This pyramid-shaped building is 48 stories tall, contains 530,000 square feet of office and retail space. The main portion of the building extends from the fifth and largest floor (21,025 square feet) to the 48th and smallest floor (2,025 square feet). The building is faced with identical precast concrete panels covered in crushed quartz bolted to the building’s structural system, which frames 3,678 single pivot steel windows.
The most distinctive aspect of the Transamerica Pyramid is its striking pyramidal form and dynamic lines. The building’s reinforced concrete construction and unique fenestration pattern also emphasize its Futurist design. Its buttress-like base extending into the surrounding plaza suggests the landing gear of spacecraft.
The Transamerica Pyramid’s space age style and technological display make it an excellent example of Futurist design. The building represents the use of architecture in the construction of corporate identity. It also represents San Francisco’s Downtown Renaissance (1968-1985), during which high-rise construction recast the city’s Financial District and Union Square. However, its disregard for height limits galvanized advocates for limited growth and was a pivotal factor in changing the dialog concerning new projects in San Francisco. Although its construction was the most controversial project of its era, the size and design of Transamerica Pyramid later became an important presence and anchor within San Francisco’s skyline; along with the Golden Gate Bridge, few other San Francisco structures could rival this icon of San Francisco.