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The Iconic Transamerica Pyramid: Now the Second Tallest Building in San Francisco

San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid, designed by architect William Pereira, is no longer the tallest building in the city. The city's architecture critic expects it will still be the most iconic building in the city.
October 10, 2016, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Leonard Zhukovsky

"These should be humbling times for the Transamerica Pyramid," writes John King of the iconic San Francisco skyscraper. "This week it ceases to be our city’s tallest building. Top honors instead will go to the still-ascending Salesforce Tower."

Yet to King, despite the fact that it will no longer be the city's tallest building, he expects it will still be the city's most recognizable for a long time to come.

It’s the symbol of the global metropolis that emerged here after World War II, a corporate attention-getter that lives up to branded hype. The visual shorthand for filmmakers and postcard peddlers who want to make their (literal) point. The embodiment of San Francisco’s tension between old and new, cutting-edge and quaint, flamboyant and matter-of-fact.

King reminds us that the Transamerica Pyramid is already only the 40th tallest building in the United States, yet few building say "you are here" like it. Of relevance to the current political environment surrounding development, King also notes that the building inspired strong opposition when it was announced in 1969. There was even a proposal to put a 6-story cap on building heights on the ballot in 1971.

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Published on Friday, October 7, 2016 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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