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Transamerica Pyramid

A sleek tower helps define the San Francisco skyline.

The Transamerica Pyramid defines the San Francisco skyline.
Photo caption
The Transamerica Pyramid defines the San Francisco skyline.

Even if it weren't the tallest building in San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid would still be a striking presence on the skyline. Its unusual design drew both praise and ridicule as it rose between the city's Financial District and the cafés of North Beach nearly 40 years ago. Today, the sleek 48-story tower rivals the Golden Gate Bridge as a symbol of the City by the Bay.

ADVANCE HYPE
When the pyramid’s three years of construction began in 1969, signs around the site proclaimed it a San Francisco landmark since 1972.

STAR DESIGNER
Pyramid architect William Pereira shared an Academy Award for best special effects for his work on Reap the Wild Wind (1942).

SOLID FOOTING
The pyramid’s nine-foot-thick foundation required a continuous 24-hour concrete pour.

BIG BOTTOM
The fifth floor is the largest, with 21,025 square feet, while the 48th floor covers only 2,025.

HIGH MAINTENANCE
Cleaning all 3,678 of the building's windows takes roughly two months.

THE AEGON PYRAMID?
Aegon NV, a Dutch insurance company, acquired the Transamerica Corporation in 1999 but has kept the building’s original moniker.

Photography by Daniel Schwen/Wikipedia

This article was first published in March 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.