San Francisco Brutalism

Having grown up in Northampton, England, I was exposed to Brutalist architecture at a very young age. Although I never recognized it as such a structure until I had graduated and moved to London, the now sadly demolished Greyfriars bus station was a truly epic piece of Brutalism and I am certain had this slain fortress of redbrick, nicknamed 'The Mouth of Hell' been located on London's Southbank we would be hailing it as one of the countries grandest red brick structures. Sadly it's nothing more than dust and a footnote in British architectural history.


I was overjoyed to find that my new home of San Francisco has more than it's fair share of concrete behemoths. Some surprisingly elegant, some dated in that classic, retro-futuristic look that defines 70s civic buildings, others the embodiment of 'brutal.'



PG&E Emarcadero Substation

Sat on corner of Folsom & Howard, this juggernaut of a building is the downtown substation for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.


This building was constructed in the early seventies and pieced together with enourmous solid stone sections. The size alone is imposing, but the lack of any kind of window gives this building an even harsher facade. Having said that their are plenty of intricate details to be admired. Including the subtle curvature above the entrance and the curved ridges of each section.


If Sutro Tower is my favourite landmark, this is my favourite building in San Francisco by a long chalk.



Hyatt Regency

Another giant of the 70's - the Hyatt Regency opened in 1973 to a fan fair, complete with a rotating restaurant and a lift that passed through a simulated eclipse.


Although the local press recently labeled it as 'out of fashion' and aesthetically challenging compared to the newer surrounding buildings, it reminds me so much of the Barbican and the Southbank Centre that I often just wonder around it when feeling homesick.


Like other buildings of this era and style the aggressive geometry  and resulting shadow play are wonderfully eye catching. reminds me so much of the Barbican and the Hayward Gallery that whenever I feel a little homesick I'll head out and take  a wander around it.

Mission Bay Parking Lot

This awesome, Q-bert-esque structure backs onto my current place of work. Suffice to say most people look at me sideways whenever I pop out on lunch breaks to take photos of it, but sooner rather than later there is going to be a 19,000 seater stadium in front of it so these pictures won't always be obtainable.


I have no idea who commissioned the place, but I wish our office had the angular and graphical charm of this thing.





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