The 19th tallest skyscraper in the Bay Area planned or built is One Embarcadero Center. One Embarcadero Center is the western-most of four look-a-like office buildings that have been a defining feature of San Francisco’s Financial District skyline since it was first erected in 1971. The mixed-use Embarcadero Center project was submitted to the city by David Rockefeller, John Portman, and Trammel-Crow.
Today’s story is part of a weekly series on SFYIMBY to count down the 52 tallest towers in the Bay Area built or planned as of January 2021.
Construction began in 1968, with One Embarcadero Center being the first of seven buildings to complete when doors opened in 1971. It had been known as Security Pacific Bank Building originally. Now, the full center spans 4.8 million square feet across from the Ferry Building, with offices, a shopping center, two hotels, and an elevated public terrace. The Embarcadero BART Station is five minutes away on foot.
The 569-foot tall building yields 833,900 square feet of office space. John Portman & Associates was the project architect, embuing with glass and bare concrete, an iconic expression of grandeur and brutalism. San Francisco’s preeminent architectural critic John King once wrote of it in 2005, “Embarcadero Center’s lifeless procession of concrete towers looks like bundled stacks of computer cards; it also looks just as dated as that analogy.” Fifteen years later, the concrete giants remain divisive, though brutalism certainly has more appreciators.
With many concrete walls and few sidewalk-facing shops, the ground level is admittedly alienating. No less, the elevated walkway takes a beautifully landscaped public space up and above the pedestrian. In his review of the center, King highlighted the convenience of that elevated walkway that connects One Embarcadero Center with the rest of the development. As he wrote, “yes, pedestrians should be down on the street rather than up in the air. Point made and seconded. But the Embarcadero Center’s skyway is convenient beyond words.”
Boston Properties is now the owner. The tower was last assessed to be worth $340 million with land and structural value combined according to city records.
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