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National Register-Listed Mayan Style Masterpiece on Sutter

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Welcome to The Landmarks, where Curbed takes a look at one of the many San Francisco landmarks, listed either locally or on the National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks will be chosen at random, but do drop us a line if you'd like to see a certain landmark highlighted

This week's Landmark post comes from a special request by a Curbed reader. Built in 1929, 450 Sutter Street is "Neo-Mayan" Art Deco skyscraper designed by starchitect Timothy Pflueger. The building is chock-a-block with crazy ornamentation, so let's dive in.

The building was designed as as a mixed-use facility, which was pretty innovative in 1929. Always designed as a medical office building, it also included a parking garage, drugstore, and shops. When it was built it was the second tallest building in San Francisco and supposedly the largest medical office building in the world. Magazines were equally impressed, saying the design "opens up a new epoch [of building]" - thems big words indeed. It remained the tallest building in the city until the building boom of the late 1960s.

The interiors are pretty insane, with an inverted gold pyramid ceiling in the lobby to mimic the interior of a Mayan temple, and burgundy marble walls next to etched panels in bronze and gold leaf. We'll let the photos speak for themselves.


Harsch Investment Properties undertook a massive restoration project a few years ago, including replacing all the windows in the building and a cleaning and repairing of the terra cotta surface. In 2010 the building was named to the National Register of Historic Places. It still operates as a medical office building today.

· 450 Sutter: The Art of Preservation [NAIOP]
· National Register of Historic Places Listings [NPS]
· Fifty Sutter Street [Architect and Engineer via Internet Archive]
· Previous coverage of Timothy Pflueger [Curbed SF]

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