The Pyramid

Whenever people come to San Francisco, their gazes are inevitably drawn to the obelisk-shaped tower in the middle of the downtown. Built by the Transamerica Corporation, the Pyramid is among the highest buildings in the US Bay Area and is one of the symbols of the city.

The design of the building was ahead of its time – until today it stands out even among the newer generation of skyscrapers such as the Salesforce Tower. Not only its looks were futuristic but also the internal equipment was state-of-the-art. The top of the spire served as the Virtual Observation Deck – its cameras overlooked the city in all four directions and provided an always-on video stream to public TV channels. The idea eventually evolved into live web feeds, implemented by many countries to attract digital tourists.

While today many San Francisco residents are fond of the tower and cherish the character it brings to the city skyline, it wasn’t the love at first sight. When the construction was announced, many felt it had no place in the historic Montgomery block. Some even dubbed it the Pereira’s Prick, after William Pereira, the chief architect. It could be that buildings, just like wine, get better with age – today the Pyramid appears on San Francisco postcards just as often as the Golden Gate bridge and the Victorian painted houses.

Perhaps it’s a reminder for us to be patient when new bold architecture suddenly changes the familiar street view. Give it some time, and the buildings that seem outrageous today will be loved by the future generations of residents and tourists.


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