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Places to Visit in San Francisco, America
Transamerica Pyramid
As soon the Transamerica Pyramid was built in 1972, the skyscrapers unique silhouette made it an iconic San Francisco landmark. Before its completion however many people were opposed to the construction of the tower.
When the plans for the new headquarters of the Transamerica Company were unveiled in 1969 many of San Franciscos citizens opposed the construction of the proposed office building. Most people claimed that the futuristic pyramid-shaped skyscraper wouldnt fit in the city of San Francisco, which is better known for its picturesque wooden Victorian houses than for its skyscrapers.
Pyramid Shape

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, he thought, be a statement of architectural sculpture. In the end, he turned out right. Not only does it have the appearance of a modern sculpted monument, but if you look at the Transamerica Pyramid now, it also seems as if it was made to be built in San Francisco.
From an economical point of view, a pyramid is not an efficient structure in terms of surface. The upper floors are very small and since there is a minimum of space needed for elevators, emergency stairs and so on, the percentage of useable space is very low. This is basically the main reason such a shape is rarely used.
However the unique shape was used so the architect could get around the strict building laws that imposed a certain ratio between the buildings surface and its height. Thanks to its pyramid shape the tower was allowed to be much taller than if it had a conventional design.
The Building

  • The Transamerica Pyramid was finished in 1972 and having a height of 260 meters (853ft), towers over the rest of the city. It has 48 floors with a 64 meter (210ft) high spire on top, covered with aluminum panels. The building owes its sparkling white color to the layer of crushed quartz that covers the rest of the building.
    The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline. The building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, who moved their U.S. headquarters to Baltimore, Maryland, but it is still associated with the company and is depicted in the companys logo. Designed by architect William Pereira and built by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, at 853 ft (260 m), on completion in 1972 it was the eighth tallest building in the world.
    The Transamerica building was commissioned by Transamerica CEO John (Jack) R. Beckett, with the claim that he wished to allow light in the street below. Built on the site of the historic Montgomery Block, it has a structural height of 853 ft (260 m) and has 48 floors of retail and office space.
    Construction began in 1969 and finished in 1972, and was overseen by San Francisco-based contractor Dinwiddie Construction (now Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company). Transamerica moved its headquarters to the new building from across the street, where it had been based in another flatiron-shaped building now occupied by the Church of Scientology of San Francisco.
    [6] Although the tower is no longer Transamerica Corporation headquarters, it is still associated with the company and is depicted in the companys logo. The building is evocative of San Francisco and has become one of the many symbols of the city.[7] Designed by architect William Pereira, it faced opposition during planning and construction and was sometimes referred to by detractors as Pereiras Prick.[8] John King of the San Francisco Chronicle summed up the improved opinion of the building in 2009 as an architectural icon of the best sort - one that fits its location and gets better with age.
    [9] The Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest skyscraper west of Chicago from 1972 to 1974 surpassing the then Bank of America Center. It was surpassed by the Aon Center in Los Angeles. The building is thought to have been the intended target of a foiled terrorist attack, involving the hijacking of airplanes as part of the Bojinka plot, which was foiled in 1995.<>br[10] In 1999 Transamerica was acquired by Dutch insurance company Aegon. When the non-insurance operations of Transamerica were later sold to GE Capital, Aegon retained the building as an investment.
    [7] Design[edit] The land use and zoning restrictions for the parcel limited the number of square feet of office that could be built upon the lot, which sits at the north boundary of the financial district.
    The building is a tall, four-sided pyramid with two wings to accommodate an elevator shaft on the east and a stairwell and a smoke tower on the west. [11] The top 212 feet (65 m) of the building is the spire. There are four cameras pointed in the four cardinal directions at the top of this spire forming a virtual observation deck. Four monitors in the lobby, whose direction and zoom can be controlled by visitors, display the cameras views 24 hours a day. An observation deck on the 27th floor was closed after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and replaced by the virtual observation deck.
    The top of the Transamerica Pyramid is covered with aluminum panels. During the Christmas holiday season, and on Independence Day and the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, a brightly twinkling beacon called the Crown Jewel is lit at the top of the pyramid.

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