San Francisco's Top 10 : Architectural Highlights - Top 10 Public Art Sites

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  1. Transamerica Pyramid

    Hated by many at first, the Pyramid is now loved as an icon of the city. Recalling pyramids of ancient cultures, to some it is a symbol of the mysticism that has always played a part in the San Francisco mentality. At 853 ft (260 m), it is the tallest building in the city, but its shape keeps it from casting a shadow on the neighborhood.

    • 600 Montgomery St

    Transamerica Pyramid
  2. Bank of America

    This 52-story structure was the first skyscraper to be erected in the city, in 1972. The color was a mistake – the granite that faces it was supposed to be pink, not brown, but by the time delivery was made, it was too late.

    • 555 California St

  3. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    Quoting Renaissance architecture in thoroughly modern ways, SFMOMA has established itself as the city’s premier Post-Modern effort. The interior has a flexibility and functionality that works perfectly with the collections displayed.

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  4. Coit Tower

    Perched on Telegraph Hill, this Art Deco sentinel takes the form of a giant fluted column. Reminiscent of Renaissance towers, the column is 63-meters tall and is perforated around the top with arched openings and windows, which visitors can reach by elevator for stunning views of the city .

  5. Palace of Fine Arts

    This bit of Neo-Classical fluff was designed by Bernard Maybeck for the Pan-Pacific Exposition of 1915. It is patterned on an 18th-century engraving by Giovanni Piranesi entitled The Isle of the Dead .

    Palace of Fine Arts
  6. Civic Center

    Centered on the City Hall that would do any state proud, the core buildings are in a grand Beaux-Arts style; and befitting the city that started the Gold Rush, gilt is everywhere .

  7. Haas-Lilienthal House

    This Queen Anne-style mansion, built in 1886, is one of the few Victorian beauties in the city that accepts callers. It’s a wonderful glimpse into the way of life among San Francisco’s upper-middle classes from about 1890 to 1920. Outside, it features gables, a turret, and patterned embellishments; inside, you can see parlors, a dining room, one of six bedrooms, and the ballroom.

    • 2007 Franklin St

    • 415 441 3004

    • Open noon–3pm Sat & Wed, 11am–4pm Sun

    • Adm

    Haas-Lilienthal House
  8. Grace Cathedral

    Executed in the medieval French Gothic style, echoing in particular Notre Dame in Paris, yet accomplished using steel-reinforced concrete. It is the third largest Episcopal church in the US .

  9. Folk Art International

    Dating from 1948, this is the city’s only building by Frank Lloyd Wright. The sweeping spiral ramp predates that at Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York.

  10. St. Mary’s Cathedral

    Critics abound who are ready to dismiss this parabolic form, but the soaring curves take the attention upward, in much the same fashion that tracery and peaked vaulting do in Gothic cathedrals .

Top 10 Public Art Sites

  1. Balmy Alley

    The most famous set of murals in town, by local Latino artists.

    • 24th & 25th sts between Harrison and Treat

  2. San Francisco Art Institute

    Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist, painted The Making of a Fresco here.

    • 800 Chestnut St

  3. Coit Tower

    Depression-era murals decorate the lobby.

  4. Fort Mason

    The Learning Wall is a mural depicting education.

    • Franklin St

  5. Women’s Building

    The work of seven women painters graces the façade.

    • 18th St between Valencia & Guerrero

  6. Bikeway

    This 340-ft (104-m) mural chronicles a bike-ride from Downtown to Ocean Beach.

    • Duboce St between Church & Market

  7. Beach Chalet

    Depression-era murals depict famous citizens.

    • 1000 Great Hwy

  8. Rincon Center

    These 1948 murals by Russian artist Anton Refregier trace Californian history.

    • Mission, Howard, Steuart & Spear sts

  9. Financial District

    The black-stone Transcendence is in front of the Bank of America.

  10. Golden Gate Park

    The Music Concourse is adorned with a number of bronzes, including Apple Cider Press .

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