Address
121 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Year Constructed
1939
Year Retrofitted
1988
Structural Engineering Firm(s)
  • Chin & Hensolt
Structural Engineer(s)
Architect(s)
Gilbert S. Sherwood, William L. Pereira Associates
Main Contractor
George A. Fuller Construction Company, Perini
Media
Rincon Center Exterior
Rincon Center Exterior
Source: NoeHill
Rincon Center's Streamlined Modern Architecture Style
Rincon Center's Streamlined Modern Architecture Style
Source: Victor Grigas
Rincon Center - Rennovated Interior
Rincon Center - Rennovated Interior
Source: Twitter
Rincon Center - Anton Refregier's Murals
Rincon Center - Anton Refregier's Murals
Source: OldSF
Rincon Center Construction - Original Building
Rincon Center Construction - Original Building
Source: OldSF
Rincon Center Mail Room
Rincon Center Mail Room
Source: OldSF
Structure Description

Rincon Center is a reinforced concrete moment frame structural originally constructed in 1939. The building was funded through the Construction Act of Public Buildings of 1936.  Special design considerations were made for the reinforced concrete structure to accommodate the extensive ventilation system necessary for cooling the building from the excess heat of 1000-1500 workers and machines on three floors. These ducts were placed in the hollow steel columns which also support 18 inch concrete floor slabs.

The foundation of the post office building consisted of 3,800 pilings, which was designed to support an additional two floors in anticipation of a future extension by the post office.  However the post office sold the building to a development company before the additional floors were added. These floors were eventually added as a part of the Rincon development project in 1988.

The renovation and extension of the building added two floors and removed the interior of the building to create an atrium that is lit by a 200-foot skylight.  The center of the skylight features a fountain made of an 8ft. square plexiglass panel with perforated holes through which water falls 85 feet to a pool level with the ground floor.  Chin and Hensolt designed the building with a ductile concrete moment frame. The renovation saw minor cracking in the plaster walls from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but no major damage.

 

Significance to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

The original building was designed as a post office building in the architectural style of Streamelined Moderne, featuring nautical details such as dolphins and port-holes. The interior contains 27 murals painted by Anton Refregier. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a San Francisco Landmark in 1980. Its conversion and expansion in the mid-1980’s from a post office to a mixed-use occupancy is an example of blending modern construction while preserving the existing look and feel of the original structure.

Interesting Facts
  • Anton Refregier (1905 - 1979) created 27 panels of murals within the building between 1940 and 1948 depicting the History of San Francisco in the Social Realism genre. To earn this commission, he won a national competition. The murals played a significant role in Rincon Center earning its Landmark title and for the building’s preservation.
  • The construction of the Rincon Center Annex in 1988 is documented in the book From the Ground Up by Douglas Frantz.