One Front Street Building

One Front Street Building
  1. About the One Front Street Building in San Francisco
    1. Prizes & Awards
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The One Front Street Building is a Postmodernist skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built between 1979 and 1982 in San Francisco, CA.

One Front Street Building is not the only name you might know this building by though. Between 1980 and 2000 it was also known as Shaklee Terraces.

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

In 2008 the One Front Street Building was awarded with the Recipient of San Francisco’s EARTH Award.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago

Architect and team

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

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

Architectural Style

The One Front 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.

The One Front Street Building was completed in 1982. At that time Postmodernism was the prevailing style. Fresh, bold and daring, architects were exploring the freedom of designing without having to follow the strict, sometimes arbitrary rules of a specific architectural movement (which ironically became a movement itself). The One Front Street Building was therefore every much in line with what the architecture community, and the people liked and wanted at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The One Front Street Building reaches an architectural height of 538ft (164m). It has a total of 38 floors, served by 17 elevators, which combined offer a total of 644,999 sqf (59,922m2) of usable space.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 290 spots available, which roughly equals 8 spots per floor (above ground), or one parking spot per every 2,228 sqf (207m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1982, the One Front Street Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

538ft (164m)

Materials & Structure

The One Front Street Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a flush and finely scaled aluminum skin with black-glass windows, establishing a uniform pattern from the sidewalk up to the roof. Rounded corners on Market Street rise uniformly to the 32nd level giving the building it's very unique silhouette.

Between floors 33rd to 36th, the building starts to diminish in floor area, creating a series of setbacks that at the same time serve as outdoor decks for the floors immediately above.

The distinctive silhouette of the One Front Street building is reminiscent of the Shell-Haus building in Berlin, designed by Emil Fahrenkamp in 1931. This similarity highlights the building's connection to historical architectural styles.