When plans for the new Transamerica Corporation’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco were unveiled in 1968, there was public outcry. Many critics claimed an obelisk-shaped skyscraper didn’t belong in their city.
But today, it’s impossible to imagine the San Francisco skyline without the grace and symmetry of The Transamerica Pyramid at Transamerica Pyramid Center. A source of great pride to San Franciscans, The Transamerica Pyramid has become an icon of San Francisco recognized worldwide, along with the city’s famous cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Transamerica Pyramid was designed by William Pereira & Associates to be part architectural masterpiece and part environmental practicality, as the unique pyramid shape was chosen to allow natural light and fresh air to filter down to the streets below.
Construction was completed and first occupancy commenced. For the next two years, the 853-foot-high Pyramid (260 meters) was the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River. It remains Northern California’s tallest building.
The 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area. Although the 48-story Pyramid shook for more than a minute – during which its top story swayed almost a foot from side to side – the building was undamaged and no one was seriously injured. The structural performance of The Transamerica Pyramid under such intense conditions can be attributed to the building’s careful structural engineering, designed to withstand tremors in the seismically active Bay Area.
Unrelated to the earthquake, as part of a strategic self-directed reorganization Transamerica Corp. relocated its headquarters from San Francisco. The company does, however, maintain a small presence as a tenant of the building to this day and continues to use the building’s image as its registered trademark logo.
Transamerica Corp. was acquired by AEGON USA, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AEGON N.V., the third-largest international insurance organization worldwide (by market capitalization). Based in the Netherlands, AEGON also ranks in the top 10 insurance groups (listed by assets). With five major country units and businesses in several other countries, AEGON employs more than 20,000 people across the globe.
AEGON continues to hold the building as an investment, although it later sold the non-financial service operations of Transamerica. Transamerica Corp.’s financial service products are still marketed worldwide under The Transamerica brand and the company continues to use The Transamerica Pyramid logo as its registered trademark.
The observation deck on the 27th floor was closed to public access, and the entrance inside the building was limited to tenants and their approved guests.
The Transamerica Pyramid is the fourth-tallest building west of the Mississippi; it is, however, still the tallest building in San Francisco and Northern California.
It is a world-class office tower and home to more than 50 high-profile firms employing about 1,500 people. Surrounded by four- and five-star hotels, restaurants, galleries, clubs and shopping, and the colorful neighborhoods of Jackson Square, Chinatown and North Beach, The Transamerica Pyramid is truly the centerpiece of the City of San Francisco.
A Co-Generation plant is installed.
The Co-Gen plant produces 70 percent of The Pyramid’s energy and is the core of the Transamerica Pyramid’s LEED certifications.
The Pyramid is awarded LEED Gold Status by the US Green Building Council for its practices in environmental sustainability including energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Management team, Cushman & Wakefield receive Super Heroes Award from USGBC for Outstanding Existing Building Project Green Team based on energy savings, resource savings and waste reduction, innovation, building owner leadership, project team collaboration, and social equity of the building in the community.
Pyramid receives Outstanding Building of the Year Award from BOMA based on its training and building standards, emergency preparedness and security standards, environmental and regulatory compliance programs, energy conservation, tenant relations, and positive community impact.
Management Team receives BOMA 360 Award for performance program, for best practices in building operations and management.
The Pyramid achieves highest level for LEED® certification: LEED Platinum, from the USGBC based on a significant increase in Energy Star ratings from 2009 — 2010.
Point of Interest Visitor Center & Gift Shop Opens to the public