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555 California Street

555 California Street
Former names Bank of America Center
Record height
Preceded by 44 Montgomery
Surpassed by Transamerica Pyramid
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 555 California Street
San Francisco, California
Elevation 35 ft (11 m)
Completed 1969
Owner Vornado Realty Trust (70%)
The Trump Organization (30%)
Management HWA 555 Owners LLC
Roof 779 ft (237 m)
Technical details
Floor count 52
4 below ground
Floor area 1,500,000 sq ft (140,000 m2)
Lifts/elevators 38
Design and construction
Architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Wurster, Benardi and Emmons
Structural engineer H. J. Brunnier Associates
Main contractor Dinwiddie Construction

555 California Street, formerly Bank of America Center, is a 52-story 779 ft (237 m) skyscraper in San Francisco, California. It is the second tallest building in the city, the largest by floor area,[6] and a focal point of the Financial District.

Completed in 1969, the tower was the world headquarters of Bank of America until the 1998 merger with NationsBank, when the company moved its headquarters to the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. A 70 percent interest was acquired by Vornado Realty Trust from foreign investors in March 2007 with a 30 percent limited partnership interest still owned by Donald Trump, managed by the Vornado Realty Trust.[7]


  • Background 1
  • Major tenants 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Colloquially known as "Triple Five", 555 California Street was meant to display the wealth, power, and importance of Bank of America. Design was by Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with architect Pietro Belluschi consulting; structural engineering was by the San Francisco firm H. J. Brunnier Associates. The skyscraper has thousands of bay windows thanks to its unique design, meant to improve the rental value and to symbolize the bay windows common in San Francisco residential real estate. The irregular cutout areas near the top of the building were designed to suggest the Sierra mountains. At the north foot of the skyscraper a plaza named in honor of Bank of America founder A.P. Giannini is usually in shadow during the day and is criticized as cold and windswept.

In the plaza the 200-ton black Swedish granite sculpture "Transcendence" by Masayuki Nagare resembles a liver but is derisively known as the "Banker's Heart". Nearly the entire block—the skyscraper, the banking hall, the plaza, the stairways, and the sidewalks—is clad in costly polished or rough carnelian granite. A restaurant, the "Carnelian Room", was on the 52nd floor. The elevator to this restaurant is one of the few publicly accessible high-speed elevators in San Francisco. The restaurant closed at midnight New Year's Eve 2009.[8]

In 1971, 555 California Street, then just two years old, appeared at the beginning of the film Dirty Harry, where it is the roof from which Scorpio snipes a woman in the now-closed pool atop what is now the Hilton Financial District hotel on Kearny Street. The film shows panoramic views of San Francisco from the roof of the building. In 1974, 555 California Street was again used for a box-office hit, this time The Towering Inferno, in which the outside plaza substituted for the film's fictional skyscraper, the infamous Glass Tower. The rooftop setting of the building used in Dirty Harry was also used a decade later in the Chuck Norris film An Eye for an Eye (1981).

The southeast corner of California and Kearny is about 35 feet (11 m) above sea level, so the top of the building is over 800 feet (240 m).[5] With the Transamerica Pyramid, 555 California Street shows the direction San Francisco's downtown was moving during the 1960s before campaigns against high-rise buildings in the 1970s and 1980s forced development to move south of Market Street. The Transamerica Pyramid is taller, but because of its top spire, 555 California has the highest habitable space.

The corner of California and Montgomery is built on landfill and the lowest level of the parking garage is below the level of the bay, so pumps, audible from the garage, keep water out. The building is built on two huge Teflon slabs meant to slide over each other in case of an earthquake, state of the art design when it was built.

Major tenants

Masayuki Nagare's sculpture Transcendence, locally referred to as "Banker's Heart".
555 California Street from street level

See also


  1. ^ 555 California Street at CTBUH Skyscraper Database
  2. ^ 555 California Street at Emporis
  3. ^ 555 California Street at SkyscraperPage
  4. ^ 555 California Street at Structurae
  5. ^ a b "Comments and Responses on Draft EIR: Transit Center District Plan and Transit Tower" (PDF). San Francisco Planning Department. 2011-09-28. p. C&R-38. Retrieved 2013-11-15. The Bank of America Building is at an elevation of about 35 feet, SFD, so its roof is some 814 feet in elevation. 
  6. ^ "Largest Office Buildings in San Francisco". San Francisco Business Times. 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  7. ^ Joseph Machnow (March 16, 2007). "Vornado to Acquire 70% Controlling Interest in 1290 Avenue of the Americas and 555 California Street". Vornado Realty Trust. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  8. ^ Food and Wine Staff (3 September 2009). "Carnelian Room Calling it Quits". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 

External links

  • 555 California Street official website
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