Shell Building

Shell Building
  1. About the Shell Building in San Francisco
  2. Shell Building's architect and team
  3. Shell Building's architectureal style
  4. Shell Building's spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials of the Shell Building

The Shell Building is a Neogothic skyscraper designed by George W. Kelham and built between 1928 and 1929 in San Francisco, CA.

Its precise street address is 100 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA. You can also find it on the map here.

The building underwent a major restoration in 1994. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was Heller Manus Architects.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago

Architect and team

George W. Kelham was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

George W. Kelham was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves 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 at the very least we know that there was one other part involved, that was H.J. Brunnier Associates in charge of Structural Engineering.

Architectural Style

The Shell Building can be categorized as a Neogothic building.

The Neo-Gothic style, also known as Gothic Revival, emerged in the United States during the late 19th century, taking inspiration from the Gothic architecture found in Europe from centuries prior.

The Gothic Revival movement took elements characteristic of the Gothic buildings, such as pointed architect, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses, and applied them to newer buildings, even those belonging to typologies that did not exist during the original Gothic period, such as skyscrapers.

Neg-Gothic buildings usually feature pinnacles, gargoyles and other decorative elements that emphasize the verticality of the structure, and include stonework that features the craftsmanship of skilled artisans of the time.

The Shell Building was completed in 1929. These were the late days of the Neogothic movement, which had been around for almost 200 years at the time.

Art-deco would soon take over US architecture, and therefore, even though George W. Kelham didn't venture into what was cutting edge in terms of style at the time, and took instead a more conservative approach to the design of the Shell Building, it is possible that the design already started showing some traits that would later become characteristic of the art-deco movement.

Spaces & Uses

The Shell Building reaches an architectural height of 377ft (115m). It has a total of 28 floors. In total, it has a built-up area of 246,493 sqf (22,900m2) offering 222,996 sqf (20,717m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1929, the Shell Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

377ft (115m)

Materials & Structure

The Shell 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 shell figures carved on the upper cornices.

Another material found at the Shell Building is brass, used for the brass screens found at the entrance of the building, which feature a lotus flower patterns and the Shell Company symbol.