Address
301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102
Year Constructed
1932
Year Retrofitted
1997
Structural Engineering Firm(s)
  • Pregnoff & Matheu
  • Structus Consulting Engineers
Structural Engineer(s)
Architect(s)
Arhtur Brown Jr., Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP.
Media
War Memorial Opera House
War Memorial Opera House
Act I -
Act I - "La Tosca", Opening Performance
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Exterior
Exterior
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Construction
Construction
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Wall Construction
Wall Construction
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Foundation Construction
Foundation Construction
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Interior Construction
Interior Construction
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Exterior Construction
Exterior Construction
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Formwork
Formwork
Source: San Francisco Public Library
Structure Description

The War Memorial Opera House is one of two prominent structures within the War Memorial and Performing Arts Complex in San Francisco’s Civic Center.  The vaulted and coffered ceilings, state-of-the-art lighting and equipment, and 3,200 seats provide a world-class setting in which opera, ballet, and theater performances are offered.  The 250,000 square foot facility was originally constructed with steel frames and reinforced concrete wall infills.  The Opera House sustained considerable damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and was retrofitted with the help of public and private funding in 1997.  The upgrades included a 10,000 square foot subterranean addition, construction of viscous dampers to pre-Northridge moment frames and supplemental shear walls.

Significance to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

The innovative employment of viscous dampers and restoration techniques allowed the City of San Francisco to increase the seismic resistance and preserve historical components of the registered landmark while maintaining its collection of Beaux-Arts structures in the Civic Center District.

Awards
  • California Preservation Foundation Restoration Award (1997)
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation National Award (1998)
Interesting Facts
  • Opening Night Opera:"Tosca" w/ Claudia Muzio soprano.
  • Home to the San Francisco Symphony prior to the construction of Davies Symphony Hall.
  • Host to the drafting of the charter of the United Nations on June 25, 1945.
Related Event(s)