Transamerica Pyramid at 50

New York luxury real estate developer SHVO recently announced a $250 million renovation of San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid Center, its 850-ft. namesake structure one of the world’s premier architectural precast concrete installations. Over a 1971-1972 window, Western Art Stone staged production about 10 miles from the site, delivering 3,920 exposed white quartz aggregate elements spanning 360,000 sq. ft. of Transamerica Pyramid enclosure plus lower level interior and exterior areas. 

The Pyramid was designed by futurist architect William Pereira and has become emblematic of the San Francisco skyline. The broader Financial District development consists of two additional buildings: Two and Three Transamerica. An art deco structure built in the 1930s for the California Ink Co., the latter is recognized for its use of cast-in-place concrete to support utilitarian industrial requirements. The masterplan from lead architect Foster + Partners, London, seeks to revitalize the Transamerica Pyramid Center and restore Redwood Park, located between the three buildings.

“The Foster team, known for the sensitivity of its juxtapositions of historic and modern structures, conceived a design highly responsive not only to Pereira’s spectacular original architecture, but to the nature of downtown San Francisco: not a generic redo of a 1970s tower, but a unique project intended to celebrate a unique modern building,” observes architecture critic Paul Goldberger. 

“Norman Foster is renowned for his brilliant treatment of historic buildings and I am thrilled to partner with his team on the important task of redeveloping this extraordinary city block and reinforcing the Transamerica Pyramid as one of the greatest buildings in the world,” adds SHVO Chairman Michael Shvo, whose firm acquired the Transamerica Pyramid Center in 2020 and plans a 2023 project completion. 

The Foster + Partners plan harmonizes the Transamerica Pyramid (above right) while upgrading Redwood Park, located along the east elevation and linking the tower to Two and Three Transamerica (rendering background). The park harbors nearly 50 redwood trees transplanted from the Santa Cruz Valley in 1974 and now rising 100 or more feet.