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Quick Facts:

Main architect:

- William Pereira.



- Between 1969-1972.



- Office building.



- Yes.



- One of the most innovative skyscrapers in the world.






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- Transamerica Pyramid

North America » US » San Francisco » Transamerica Pyramid

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Transamerica Pyramid,
San Francisco






Transamerica Pyramid history


The Transamerica Pyramid was constructed to be the new headquarters for Transamerica Corp; a large US-based insurance company. The history of the mighty Transamerica Pyramid dates back to the late 60ies, when the decisions to construct a new headquarter was taken.



Innovative Design

The company president at the time, John Beckett, had his own vision on the building design. He noticed how the trees in the park, unlike the surrounding, box-like buildings, allowed natural light to filter down to the streets below. He wanted the same thing to be true for the new headquarters, which was one of the main reasons why the building got its spectacular pyramid design.




The Transamerica Pyramid was designed by the architect William Pereira. Located on the historic Montgomery Block, the construction of the building began in 1969 and finished later in 1972. During the planning and construction phase, many opposed the unconventional design. Most people claimed that the pyramid shape would not fit the city. However, once finished it became an appreciated and iconic San Francisco landmark.



Towers above its surroundings

At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River. Even though it today has lost that status, it still remains one of the very tallest buildings in California.




Why visit Transamerica Pyramid ?


The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest and most recognizable skyscraper in theSan Francisco skyline. The building has a structural height of 260 meters, divided on 48 floors of retail and office space.



An architectural masterpiece

The Transamerica Pyramid is without a doubt most known for its unusual shape. The architect William Pereira claimed to have created the ideal shape for skyscrapers, as it came with the advantage of letting more air and light into the surrounding streets.

This, together with the earthquake safe design, also allowed the building to get around strict building laws which enabled it be much taller than if it had a more normal design.



Design drawbacks

However, the pyramid shape also has limitations. The upper level floors of the building get smaller and smaller due to its shape.


The fact that there is a fixed space needed for elevators and emergency stairs limited the office space even further. In order to free up some space, Pereira designed the two wings visitors can see on either side of the pyramid. These wings contain elevators, staircases and other utility facilities.

However, this still didn’t prevent the pyramid from being inefficient from an economic perspective. The largest floor at the base covers more than 21,000 square-feet while the top floor covers a mere 2,000 square-feet. This is the main reason why this building is so unique and why we rarely see other pyramid shaped skyscrapers.



A beacon of light

The top of the building is covered in aluminum panels which can be illuminated from within during night. The rest of the Transamerica Pyramid is covered in layers of crushed quartz which gives it its beautiful pure white color. 



A massive building

The pyramid can boast with some impressive numbers. Only the base of the buildings contains more than 12.000 cubic-meters of concrete and over 480 kilometers of steel rebar.  The pyramid has a total of 3678 windows which together takes more than one month to clean. The building houses 18 elevators, but in order to conserve space, only two of these lead all the way up to the top.

The building of today houses several high profile firms and provides office for around 1500 people. Even though the building it is not exclusively used by the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly associated with the company. They even incorporated the pyramid into their logo and the company slogan.



San Francisco landmark

Thought the building was somewhat criticized during its construction, it has today become one of the main symbols of the city. The Transamerica Pyramid dominates the San Francisco skyline, while at the same time achieving its objective by bringing life to the streets below. It is truly one of its kind and a great piece of architecture.




Transamerica Pyramid location


The Transamerica Pyramid is located in western United States, in San Francisco, California. The building lies situated on Montgomery Street in downtown San Francisco. For the exact location of the Transamerica Pyramid, check out the location map to the right!



Transamerica Pyramid resources


transamerica pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid. (GFDL) Superchilum.

Dominating its surroundings. creative commons Oneras.

transamerica pyramid

The pyramid top. creative commons permanently scatterbrained.

transamerica pyramid

The pyramid from below. creative commons vpvasquez8.

transamerica pyramid dusk

The pyramid during evening. creative commons Everfalling.

transamerica pyramid dusk

The pyramid in the mist. creative commons IanPhilipMiller.

Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our US map.


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