Location within San Francisco
|Preceded by||Bank of America Center|
|Surpassed by||Salesforce Tower (2017)|
|Location||600 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, California
|Management||Cushman & Wakefield|
|Roof||853 ft (260 m)|
|Top floor||695 ft (212 m)|
|Floor area||702,076 sq ft (65,225.0 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||William L. Pereira & Harry D. Som|
|Structural engineer||Chin & Hensolt, Inc.
Simonson & Simonson
|Main contractor||Dinwiddie Construction Co.|
The Transamerica Pyramid at 600 Montgomery Street between Clay and Washington Streets in the Financial District of San Francisco, California, United States, is a 48-story postmodern building and the second-tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline. Its height will be surpassed by Salesforce Tower, currently under construction. The building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, which moved its U.S. headquarters to Baltimore, Maryland, but it is still associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo. Designed by architect William Pereira and built by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, at 853 feet (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 feet (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 a flatiron-shaped building now occupied by the Church of Scientology of San Francisco.
Although the tower is no longer Transamerica Corporation headquarters, it is still associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo. The building is evocative of San Francisco and has become one of the many symbols of the city. Designed by architect William Pereira, it faced opposition during planning and construction and was sometimes referred to by detractors as "Pereira's Prick". 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." King also wrote in 2011 that it is "a uniquely memorable building, a triumph of the unexpected, unreal and engaging all at once. ... It is a presence and a persona, snapping into different focus with every fresh angle, every shift in light."
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 ownership of the building as an investment.
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. 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 the "Transamerica 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 for security reasons around the time of the Gulf War in 1991 and later replaced by the virtual observation deck a few years later. The video signal from the "Transamericam" was used for years by a local TV news station for live views of traffic and weather in downtown San Francisco.
The top of the Transamerica Pyramid is covered with aluminum panels. During the Christmas holiday season, and on Independence Day and the anniversary of 9/11, a brightly twinkling beacon called the "Crown Jewel" is lit at the top of the pyramid.