555 California Street Building

555 California Street Building
  1. About the 555 California Street Building in San Francisco
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The 555 California Street Building is a Postmodernist skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, in association with Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons, and built between 1967 and 1969 in San Francisco, CA.

555 California Street Building is not the only name you might know this building by though. Between 1969 and 2005 it was also known as Bank of America Building.

Its precise street address is 555 California Street, San Francisco, CA. You can also find it on the map here.

The building underwent a major restoration in 2017. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was Huntsman Architectural Group.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
1967
57
Construction completed
1969
55
a
Restoration
2017
7
years ago
2024
  1. 2017 - Renovation of the commercial lobby was carried out with new finishes on floors, walls, and display windows, along with the replacement of the revolving doors, resulting in a brighter and more open passageway. The remodelation extends to the exterior with a new canopy and signage elements.. The architect in charge was Huntsman Architectural Group.

Architect and team

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design, in association with Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Pietro Belluschi.

Commonly known as SOM, the firm was founded in Chicago in 1936 and has grown to be one of the largest architecture firms in the world.

Even long after its founders passed away, SOM has remained at the top of worldwide architectural excellence by attracting visionary architects. Amongst their most notorious partners we find names such as Gordon Bunshaft, Bruce Graham, Walter Netsch, Adrian Smith, Myron Goldsmith or David Childs.

SOM has also managed to grow and evolve to tackle the architectural challenges of each time, whatever those might be, and today is committed to aspects as important as efficiency and sustainability, as core values of their designs.

With a legacy spanning decades, SOM continues to shape the skylines of cities around the world, and is a usual contestant in any competition or selection process to design large-scale or iconic buildings and structures.

Skidmore Owings Merrill

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the other architects already mentioned were in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the 555 California Street Building a reality:

  • H. J. Brunnier Associates in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Dinwiddie Construction as the Main Contractor
  • Bank Of American National Trust & Savings Association as the Main Developer
  • Lawrence and Associates in charge of Landscape Architecture

Architectural Style

The 555 California Street Building can be categorized as a Postmodernist building.

Postmodernism in architecture emerged in the United States during the late 1960s as a reaction against the starkness of the International Style, which part of the new generation of architects argued was too impersonal, sterile, and disconnected from historical and cultural contexts.

Postmodernism challenged the International Style's austerity by reintroducing historical elements and ornamentation, although this time not as literally as in the Neo-Classic buildings. Instead, they reinterpreted them within the context of modern materials and construction techniques.

Postmodern buildings often feature bold, contrasting colors, unconventional forms, and a playful blend of various architectural elements from different eras and cultures.

In the United States, Postmodernism was not just an aesthetic choice but also a philosophical stance. It represented a democratization of design, where architects sought to create buildings that were accessible and meaningful to a broader range of people, not just designers and intellectuals.

Spaces & Uses

The 555 California Street Building reaches an architectural height of 778ft (237m). It has a total of 56 floors, 52 above ground and 4 basements, served by 38 elevators.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 450 spots available, which roughly equals 9 spots per floor (above ground).

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1969, the 555 California Street Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

778ft (237m)
4 basements

Materials & Structure

The 555 California Street Building uses a framed tube-in-tube structure , with steel columns and concrete, steel slabs.

A framed tube-in-tube structure uses a central core, known as inner tube, which usually holds stairs, lifts and installations, and a perimeter of columns around it, which form the exterior tube. The interior tube is tipically more massive (often made of reinforced concrete), and the exterior tube is "lighter" (made of steel or concrete columns). Both tubes are conencted via horizontal elements which make up the floors and also transmit any horizontal froces from the facade to the core.

It is uncommon for a framed tube-in-tube structure type building to have a non-load-bearing facade, as the exterior "tube" is usually integrated into the facade.

Its foundations were of the concrete caisson type. The framing was moment-resistant welded steel, and the flooring system was also a structural steel beam and girder with a metal deck and concrete slab

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a faceted silhouette with bronze/tinted glass and polished carnelian granite cladding.

The shape of the floor plan repeats from floor to floor almost identically until the last 10 floors, where a series of setbacks make the top floors slightly smaller in size.

Sources

  • web.archive.org
  • www.vno.com
  • www.som.com
  • pcad.lib.washington.edu
  • en.wikipedia.org
  • www.huntsmanag.com