Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco

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  • Transamerica Pyramid
    by cjg1
  • statues at Transamerica Redwood Park
    statues at Transamerica Redwood Park
    by mindcrime
  • Transamerican Pyramid from Nob Hill
    Transamerican Pyramid from Nob Hill
    by mindcrime
  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    jumble of architectural styles

    by richiecdisc Updated Sep 16, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    old & new intermingle effortlessly

    The Transamerica Pyramid caused quite a stir when it was built in 1972 with its odd space-like shape of 863 feet designed to allow natural light to filter down to the street below, but today it falls short of only the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars as the icon most associated with the city. Though the building is an impressive site and unmistakable in the skyline, my most vivid impression always remains the juxtaposition of its futuristic shape in close contrast to the Sentinel Building just in front of it. The Sentinel Building is a true landmark in its own right, having been built during the 1906 earthquake and obviously surviving it! Its elegant shape and eerie greenish blue hue evokes a ghostly though charming element that somehow compliments the newer building’s efficient structure.

    I found in 2008, the combination of a truly wide angle lens and a good digital SLR makes for better shots. This one was similar to my old shot but the detail and color are so much better.

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  • pigletsmom's Profile Photo

    Cool Skyline Architecture

    by pigletsmom Updated May 13, 2004

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    photo from www.guidesulysse.com

    It is one thing to see the Trans America Pyramid from a distance, it is quite another to see it up close. Could you imagine what San Francisco would look like without this building? Fascinating views of the building can be had just walking up Powell street through North Beach to the Financial District. It dominates your attention. Really spectacular upclose and in person. My camera battery died before I could take a photo of the building, so much for digital.

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  • smschley's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid

    by smschley Written Mar 12, 2005

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    In 1968 Transamerica President John R. Beckett noticed that the trees in a city park allowed natural light and fresh air to filter down to the streets below. Wishing to achieve the same effect with Transamerica's new headquarters, an unconventional pyramid shape was chosen for the building.

    According to the architect, William L. Pereira, the pyramid is the ideal shape for skyscrapers, offering the practical advantage of letting more air and light in the adjacent streets. The building would be a statement of architectural sculpture. In the end, he turned out right. If you look at the Transamerica Pyramid now, it looks like it was made to be built in San Francisco.

    A lot of protest came from the citizens of San Francisco when the plans for the new buildings of the Transamerica Company were unveiled in 1969. Most people claimed that the pyramid-shaped skyscraper wouldn't fit in the city

    From an economical point of view, a pyramid is not an efficient structure in terms of surface, but it was a way for the architect to get around the strict building laws that imposed a certain ratio between the buildings surface and its height. Transamerica wanted a taller building but the city planning commission would not approve it because it interfered with precious views of San Francisco Bay from Nob Hill.

    This 48-story building towers over the city at 853 feet and is the tallest building in San Francisco, has become a symbol for the city and for the Transamerica Corporation. The building has 48 floors, 3,678 windows. The largest floor is the 5th floor, with 21,025 sq ft, while the 48th floor is the smallest, with only 2,025 sq ft.

    Check out the "virtual observation deck" in the lobby. You can control four cameras mounted on the top of the building, panning around north, south, east and west for views of the city. The wings that project from the side enclose the elevator shaft in one and a staircase and smoke tower in the other. Don't miss the scale model of the Transamerica Pyramid, for a top-down view.

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  • littlesam1's Profile Photo

    The Transamerica Pyramid

    by littlesam1 Written Sep 6, 2005

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    The Transamerica Pyramid
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    Some things tend to haunt me when I visit a city. When I was in Prague I became fascinated with the cathedral Our Lady Before Tyn. In Paris of course the Eiffel Tower seemed to overshadow every picture taken there. In San Francisco I became fascinated with the Transamerica Tower. It is a very overpowering building and it does dominate the San Francisco skyline. Everytime I went out in the city I kept looking for it to see where is was in relation to where I was located. I watched it from street car windows. I photographed it here from the top of Coit Tower. I went to Alcatraz and stood on the platform there and stared at the building. It just seemed to haunt and overwhelm me with interest.

    I love architecture. To me this is one of the outstanding buildings in the US. From the pyramids on the base supporting the struction, the pyramid shaped tower the building fascinated me for reasons I can not begin to explain. Although the tower has been closed to the public since 9/11 there is a visitors center in the base of the building.

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  • Andraf's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid

    by Andraf Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco
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    The Transamerica Pyramid is the most remarkable presence in San Francisco's skyline. Located in the financial district, it's the tallest building in the city, measuring 853 ft (256m) from the street level. It was designed by William Pereira as an office building for Transamerica corporation, a financial institution. The building opened in 1972. The public is not allowed at the upper floors.

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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    futurism in SF!

    by mindcrime Written Jan 20, 2010

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    Transamerican Pyramid
    4 more images

    Transamerican Pyramid (pic 1-2) is really a futuristic building, I couldn’t accept it in the first place as part of SF skyline but now that I look back at my photos I like it! :) Actually I discovered that it’s visible from several different points in the city (pics 3-4). As you can see it looks like an Egyptian pyramid!! The architect was William Pereira and decided to created like this because he wanted to maximize light in the narrow streets of the financial district, clever isn’t it? It was built in 1972 and it is 260 meters tall with 48 floors, definitely the tallest building in SF. It houses business offices but its no longer the Transamerica Corporation headquarters.

    Next to the pyramid is the Transamerica Redwood Park, a small park made for the enjoyment of the employees, tenants and friends. There is a nice fountain but we didn’t see anyone there except the statues of the children (pic 5).

    The tower is open Monday to Friday 9.00-18.00 but we just admired it from outside as the viewing platform at the top is closed for security reasons because of 9/11 :(

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  • USCgirlie's Profile Photo

    The focal point of SF's skyline

    by USCgirlie Written Mar 22, 2006

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    Transamerica, the pyramid-shaped building, is not only an icon of San Francisco, but is the center of the Financial district. This building houses a countless number of offices, and while they unfortunately do not allow people to ride the elevator to the top, just walking around the Transamerica building is an experience in itself. The building feels enormous when you are at the base, and it is fun to look up to the very top of the pyramid. However, a tourist that does want to see views from the Financial District -- and is not on a budget -- can walk over to the Bank of America building (another SF architectural landmark), which is in close proximity to the Transamerica building. From there, you can ride an elevator to the top, where there is an expensive restaurant called the Carnelian Room. The Carnelian Room provides excellent views of the city while patrons dine.

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  • Callavetta's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Building

    by Callavetta Updated May 13, 2003

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    Peering from behind modern apartment buildings

    It seems that where ever you go in Paris, you may get a glimpse of the Eiffle Tower. In San Francisco, it's the Transamerica Building that is omnipresent. Along with the Golden Gate Bridge, it is truly a symbol of the SF skyline.

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  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid & Redwood Park

    by sue_stone Written Feb 8, 2009

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    Transamerica Pyramid
    4 more images

    The very impressive looking Transamerica Pyramid is San Francisco's tallest building, at 260m. Located amongst downtown office blocks, it possibly looks more impressive from a distance.

    Construction of the tower finished in 1972, and this pyramid shaped building is one of the recognisable landmarks of the city. There used to be an observation tower on the 27th floor, but this was closed to the public after September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Next to the towering pyramid is an unusual site in the middle of a city - a half-acre of redwood trees, called Redwood Park. The park is popular for tai-chi fanatics and lunchtime concerts.

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  • SLLiew's Profile Photo

    A skyscraper landmark of SF

    by SLLiew Written Oct 17, 2006

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    Driving toward and around in downtown San Francisco, you will not miss this beautiful landmark with it unique design.

    Completed in 1972, the height is 260 meters with 48 floors. It survived the 1989, 7.1-magnitude Bay Area earthquake and apparently the top storey swayed nearly a foot from side to side.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid

    by Dabs Written Oct 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Transamerica Pyramid from Chinatown

    The 2nd most recognizable symbol of San Francisco behind the Golden Gate Bridge is the Transamerica Pyramid building which is still named after the Transamerica Corporation insurance company even though their headquarters are no longer in the building. The 48 story building was completed in 1972 and was for a short time the tallest building west of the Mississippi and still the tallest building in San Francisco. There is no observation deck here or at any other building in San Francisco that I'm aware of although we were able to go to the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis in Union Square for the view and I understand there's another good view from the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.

    We never got close to the building but you can see it from lots of different places as you are wandering through the city.

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  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Mark Twain, Bummer and Lazarus!

    by Jefie Updated Oct 10, 2009

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    San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid
    4 more images

    The Transamerica Pyramid is possibly the most easily recognizable building in all of San Francisco. It was completed in 1972 and it has been the city's tallest skyscaper since then; however, several projects have been put forward that could put an end to the Pyramid's reign over San Francisco in the next few years. The Pyramid is 256 m high, 64 m of which are made up by the hollow spire that stands on top of the building's 48 floors.

    The Pyramid was constructed on the site of the Montgomery Block, which used to be the largest building on the West Coast. It was home to a very popular saloon where Mark Twain, who then worked at the Golden Era newspaper located just across the street, was one of the regular patrons. The author's presence in the area is commemorated by the Mark Twain Plaza, and also in the small but lovely Redwood Park, which is located right next to the Transamerica Pyramid. The park's fountain features several jumping frogs as a tribute to Mark Twain's story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". There is also a nice sculpture by Glenna Goodacre called "Puddle Jumpers", and a plaque in memory of Bummer and Lazarus. Bummer and Lazarus were two stray dogs that achieved a bit of a legendary status in the Financial District in the 1860s, mostly thanks to their rat-killing exploits, which were often reported in newspapers, and their remarkable friendship. When the two dogs died, Lazarus in 1863 and Bummer in 1865, Mark Twain was among the main journalists who published a eulogy in the local newspapers.

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  • MDH's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid

    by MDH Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Transamerica Pyramid

    When the Transamerica Corporation decided on the style of its new headquarters in 1968, people were shocked by how revolutionary the shape of the building was. When it was completed in 1972, many San Franciscans--worldly renowned for their open-mindedness--couldn't stand the sight of the Pyramid. But by the 1980s, the Pyramid had grown on the locals, and today is beloved by many and has become as San Franciscan as the Golden Gate and the Haight.

    At 853 ft high and at 48 stories, 1500 people come to work here each working day. Although now not the corporate headquarters of Transamerica, the name has nevertheless stuck, just like the Chrysler Building in New York. Unfortunately, because of security concerns and the compactness of the building, the obersvation floor isn't open to the public. However, the folks at the building have made up with a virtual observation deck in the building's ground floor, where you can control live-tv cameras situated at the very top of the building and zoom into areas all over the city.

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  • madamx's Profile Photo

    Transamerica Pyramid

    by madamx Updated Aug 15, 2005

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    This was, until recently, San Francisco's tallest building, but still is a modern symbol of the city. Completed in 1972, and designed by William Pereira, it is a 48-story structure with a 212 foot spire.

    They no longer offer tours of the building.

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  • Zydeco31's Profile Photo

    The Transamerica Tower

    by Zydeco31 Written Jan 7, 2004

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    A view from below :)
    1 more image

    This is probably the most significant building in the San Francisco skyline. It's quite a view looking up from the ground, but even more amazing is the view from the top (and, of course, those pictures came out terribly dark and blurry :( . I don't know exactly how tall the building is but I think it's the city's tallest. In 1972 It was built with granite that had spouted from Mount Lassen's eruption in 1906, the same year of the city's earthquake. It was also the tallest building in the U.S. west of the Mississippi from 1972 to 1974. It has 48 floors and 3,678 windows. I'm sure it will still be standing after the next earthquake :)

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