San Francisco’s Urban Design Community Celebrates Restored Hallidie Building

Mayor Ed Lee Declares May 1 Hallidie Building Day in SF

The restored facade of San Francisco's historic Hallidie Building, America's first all-glass curtain wall office building. (Photo: Business Wire)

SAN FRANCISCO--()--City leaders and San Francisco’s urban design community will mark today the restoration of the façade of the Hallidie Building, a National and San Francisco landmark and considered by many to be America’s first all-glass curtain wall façade.

“After many months, we have painstakingly restored Willis Polk’s original vision for this historic structure,” said Edward Conner who along with architect-partner Herb McLaughin has owned the Hallidie Building since 1974. “The Hallidie Building is known the world over as a progenitor of modern architectural design. And we owed it to the city of San Francisco to restore this façade to its original glory.”

The seven-story structure at 130 Sutter Street was built in 1918. For the Sutter Street façade, Willis Polk designed a steel grid filled with individual glass windows, overlaid with balconies framed by an Edwardian decoration of stamped metal. The finished effect was a shimmering wall of glass – now known as a curtain wall, a technique employed by thousands of modern structures today around the globe.

In a proclamation, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee declared today “Hallidie Building Day” in the city and commended the property owners for “restoring this architectural gem to pristine condition.”

The Hallidie Building was built as an investment property for the University of California and the façade’s structural and decorative elements have been re-painted with the blue and gold Cal colors as specified in the original design. The structure was named for Andrew Hallidie, a University regent, prominent San Franciscan and inventor of the cable car.

“Willis Polk’s all-glass façade foretold the modern cityscape by allowing buildings to grow exponentially in scope while incorporating light and air,” said Jay Turnbull, a principal at Page & Turnbull. “The Hallidie Building embodies fundamental architectural elements that make the modern city livable in design and form, and we all benefit from its example.”

Today, the Hallidie Building is featured in virtually every American and foreign textbook on commercial architecture. Restoration work began in 2011 and was conducted for the past two years under the supervision of The Albert Group, project manager; McGinnis Chen Associates, architects of record; Page & Turnbull, preservation architects; Murphy Burr Curry, structural engineers; Toft, de Nevers & Lee, structural engineers; Cannon Constructors; Van Mulder Sheet Metal; MAS Metals; and ABC Painting.

“We worked closely with the City of San Francisco and the Historic Preservation Commission on this restoration,” said Mr. Conner. “We thank them and everyone involved in this project who helped make this renovation such a success.”

Accredited media will be able to access a viewing platform today at 5 p.m. that will allow close-up examination of the restored façade.

The Hallidie Building was designated a San Francisco landmark and placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.


Charles Goodyear, 415-265-1545

Release Summary

City leaders and San Francisco’s urban design community celebrate today the restoration of the Hallidie Building, America’s first all-glass curtain wall office building.


Charles Goodyear, 415-265-1545