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Lightness Restored at Landmark San Francisco Building

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Best Renovation/Restoration Project: The Hallidie Building Restoration, San Francisco

Photo by Sherman Takata, Takata Photography
this 1918 building, designed by Willis Polk, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Maintaining the historic fabric was central to the $7-million restoration.
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From the start, this 1918 building, designed by Willis Polk, welcomed light into the city as one of the first glass curtain-wall structures. The landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by the University of California, and its exterior metal work sports the school's blue and gold.

Maintaining the historic fabric was central to the $7-million restoration. Scope included cataloging all elements removed from the building to be re-installed later and replacing structural steel and improving facade details without compromising the original.

Only four sheets of the original drawings were available and none for the signature curtain wall, balconies or decorative metal, says Bruce Albert, president of owner's representative The Albert Group. He and Annie K. Lo, an architect with McGinnis Chen Associates, thoroughly inspected the areas. "We tried to think like Willis Polk and develop solutions that he would approve of," Albert says.

The team was carefully vetted to select those with the expertise to restore the curtain wall. "We were fortunate to find some very talented people who contributed not just their skills, but also their ideas in developing solutions to some challenging problems," Albert says.

One judge noted that "the restoration brings the lightness of the original design back."

Key Players

General Contractor Cannon Constructors North, San Francisco

Owner's Representative The Albert Group, San Francisco

Owner Edward J. Conner and Herbert McLaughlin Jr., San Francisco

Lead Design McGinnis Chen Associates, San Francisco

Structural Engineer Murphy Burr Curry and Toft, de Nevers & Lee, both San Francisco

Historic Preservation Architect Page & Turnbull, San Francisco

Subcontractors Van Mulder Sheet Metal, Hayward; MAS Metals, Hayward; Abrasive Blasting & Coating, Vallejo

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