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The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest and most recognizable skyscraper in the San Franciscomarker skyline.

Although the building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo.

Designed by architect William Pereira, at a height of , it is currently tied for 106th tallest building in the world.

History

Built on the location of the historic Montgomery Block, it has a structural height of and contains 48 floor of retail and office space. Construction began in 1969 and finished in 1972. It is currently ranked as being tied for 106th tallest building in the world. Transamerica moved their headquarters to the new building from across the street, where they used to be based in another flatiron-shaped building now occupied by the Church of Scientology of San Francisco.

Although it no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly 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 considerable opposition during its planning and construction, and was sometimes referred to by detractors in derogatory slang.

The Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi from 1972–1974 (surpassing the nearby 555 California Streetmarker), at which point it was surpassed by the Aon Centermarker in Los Angelesmarker, which was designed by Pereira's former business partner Charles Luckman.

The building is considered to have been the intended target of a foiled terrorist attack, involving the hijacking of airplanes as part of Oplan Bojinka, which was foiled in 1995.

In 1999, Transamerica was acquired by Dutchmarker insurance company AEGON. When the non-insurance operations of Transamerica were later sold to GE Capital, AEGON retained the building as an investment. 2007 Masters Golf Champion Zach Johnson wears an AEGON hat that has a logo of the pyramid building.

Design

Its unique shape is the result of the desire by Transamerica to have a building whose top would be looked up to by the Bank of America executives on the highest floor of the 555 California Streetmarker , which is not only tall but also sits upon a substantially higher elevation. 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 northern boundary of the financial district. This building was built under the 'Building Codes' to be Earthquake safe.

The building is a tall, four-sided pyramid with two "wings" on opposite sides of the building. The wing to the east of the building contains an elevator shaft, while the wing to the west contains a stairwell and a smoke tower. The top 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 holiday season of Thanksgiving, and 4 July, a bright, white light is seen on top of the pyramid.

Specifications



  • The building's façade is covered in crushed quartz, giving the building its pure white color.
  • The four-story base of the building contains a total of of concrete and over of steel rebar .
  • It has 3,678 windows.
  • The building's foundation is thick and was the result of a 24-hour continuous concrete pour.
  • Only two of the building's 18 elevators reach the top floor.


  • The original proposal called for a building, which would have been for one year the second-tallest completed building in the world. The proposal was rejected by the city planning commission on the grounds that it would have interfered with views of San Francisco Baymarker from Nob Hillmarker.
  • The building occupies the site that was the temporary home of A.P. Giannini's Bank of Italy after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed its office. Giannini founded Transamerica in 1928 as a holding company for his financial empire. Bank of Italy later became Bank of America.
  • There is a plaque commemorating two famous dogs, Bummer and Lazarus, at the base of the building.
  • The hull of the whaling vessel Niantic, an artifact of the 1849 California Gold Rush, lay almost exactly beneath the Transamerica Pyramid, and the location is marked by a historical plaque outside the building (California Historical Landmark #88).
  • The aluminum cap is indirectly illuminated from within to balance the appearance at night.
  • The two vertical external extensions allow preservation of useful interior space at the upper levels. One extension is the top of elevator shafts while the other is a smoke evacuation tower for fire-fighting.
  • A glass pyramid cap sits at the top and encloses both aircraft warning light and a seasonal white beacon.
  • At certain times of the year the glass cap will briefly cast a reflected sunlight gleam onto traffic crossing the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgemarker




Appearances in popular culture

From the ground to the sky.


  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (movie, 1978) The building appears in a key scene, appearing to separate two main characters (one of whom would be revealed to be a villain a moment later).
  • A View to a Kill (movie, 1985) depicted James Bond barely missing the antenna of the peak of the pyramid while being suspended from a blimp.


  • The Presidio (movie, 1988) the building features prominently in both day and night scenes.


  • Zodiac (movie, 2007) features a time-lapsed scene of the building's construction between 1971 and 1972. The effect was achieved with computer generated imagery
  • Livin' on the Fault Line (1977 album by The Doobie Brothers). The building features on the cover but not in downtown San Francisco, instead on the beach next to a rocky cliff. It appears partially submerged in the ocean on the rear cover.








  • Charmed. The building is frequently featured in the WB series along with other popular San Francisco landmarks as an intermission between scenes.
  • Call of Duty 4 (videogame). The building exterior is recreated as part of the decorative skyline in the map "Chinatown"










  • Sliders (TV Series) Episode: Season 1 - 'The Prince of Wails'. In the opening scene, the Sliders (Quinn, Wade, Arturo and Rembrandt) are on a parallel world where San Francisco is completely flooded, and are trapped on the very top of the Transamerica Pyramid (99% of the building is underwater) while waiting to slide to the next world.


See also



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