Usually the skyscrapers in the United States are located on the east coast of the country. Especially in New York, with buildings as emblematic as the Empire State or the Chrysler Building. But in reality, there are skyscrapers in all the big American cities, including a city like San Francisco in the state of California, whose orographic conditions and its habitual earthquakes do not seem to make the presence of of these construction giants.
San Francisco Transamerica Pyramid
But instead there are, and the tallest of all has become one of the symbols of the city, not as much as the Golden Gate, but almost. We are talking about the Transamerica Pyramid.
This construction reaches 260 meters in height, and since it was completed in 1972 it remains the tallest in San Francisco. It is a work of the architect William L. Pereira, who proposed that peculiar pyramidal shape with a very futuristic design that initially received a lot of criticism, and hardly anyone supported it except the Transamerica company that commissioned the job. However, over time it has become an icon of the city.
Today, it is no longer owned by that company, although it still retains its name, logo, and function as an office building. And so it continues to comply with one of the precepts that the owner of thecompany commissioned the architect. That would create a bright workplace. Something that is achieved with such height and with the more than 3,600 windows that the building has.
Its pyramid shape is not only an aesthetic issue, it is also very important in its structural concept. In fact, the building rises from colossal concrete pillars with an oblique layout. Everything is raised on them, and then they generate a system of pillars in X to support the entire framework and above all to be able to resist possible earthquakes. An efficiency that has already been proven, because a work as tall as this has already had to withstand earthquakes with an intensity greater than 7 points on the Richter scale.
All of it is built with that reinforced concrete, with steel and with glass. But its external appearance is given by the granulated quartz used in its four facades. That color is characteristic, but so is its 65-meter needle covered in aluminum, which lights up at night and especially on specific dates.
Just as its profile is also very recognizable with the two pieces in the form of inverted triangles that emerge from the 29th floor. But it is not a decorative detail, in reality they have a structural and also a functional function, since they act as buttresses and as space for the stairwell on one side and for elevators on the other, of which there are up to 18, although not all of them reach the 48th floor, the highest of the Transamerica Pyramid.