One Kearny

One Kearny is a single building comprised of three interconnected elements built at different times. It anchors a prominent corner at the end of Third Street, a major transit artery serving San Francisco’s downtown urban core. The central element, built in 1902 as the Mutual Savings Bank, is an opulent twelve-story building fashioned in the French Renaissance Revival style. At the corner is a modern twelve-story annex constructed in the mid 1960s, designed by renowned architect Charles Moore. The final piece of the triptych, our office’s contribution, is a ten-story addition completed in 2009.


One Kearny LLC

120,000  SF  (addition)

1 Kearny Street, San Francisco

2010 Architectural Foundation of San Francisco
Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Prize, Best New Building in SF by a Small Firm

2010 SF Business Times
Finalist, Real Estate Deal of the Year

2009 California Construction Magazine
Best of 2009 Award of Merit for Renovation/Restoration

2009 National Council of Structural Engineers Association (NCSEA) Excellence in Structural Engineering Award
2008 Real Estate Construction Review Magazine - Northern California Edition
Top Projects in Northern California
“Historic Preservation in San Francisco: Making the Preservation Process Work for Everyone,” SPUR / Heritage Historic Preservation Task Force, 2013.
“Shared spirit in 1 Kearny’s styles from 3 eras,” John King, San Francisco Chronicle, November 10, 2009.


Beyond expanding the existing floors, the new structure corrects some of the technical deficiencies created by past interventions. The 1960s structure was designed to support the 1902 building in a “served-servant” relationship, following the accepted architectural theories of the time. The building’s “servant” core components, including elevators, fire stairs, and restrooms, were located in the brick-clad annex. This servant, however, was poorly positioned for the “served” area. The annex turned its back on views down San Francisco’s famed Market Street, and the elevator lobby was too large for a full-floor tenant. Also, typical of many turn-of-the-nineteenth-century buildings, the original structure did not meet modern seismic requirements. The annex was designed as a strong concrete structure, but by itself it was not strong enough to brace the 1902 steel-framed building.

The program was resolved by relocating the circulation core from the 1960s annex to the new addition, liberating the corner with the prime view to be used as office space. The steel structure of the new addition, in concert with the concrete structure of the annex, form seismic “bookends” that brace the original jewel-like building without tearing into it; both express their roles as earthquake braces for the original historic building.

The completed building engages the city in two different ways, both satisfying agency requirements in a thoughtful manner. The roof terrace of the new addition is a privately owned public open space (POPOS)—an elevated park with one of the best views of the city. The interior of the main lobby, “Lightfold,” was designed by avant-garde architects IwamotoScott, specifically commissioned and approved as a work of public art.

The facades of the new building were designed to respect those built in the two previous eras, while also making their own statements as contemporary architecture. As local architectural critic John King observed: “Each piece is serious architecture, shaped by thoughts of how best to fit within the city in lasting ways.” The composition of the new facade is classical, with a clearly defined base, shaft, and capital, like its immediate neighbor. Striking vertical bands of terra cotta echo the stair tower masonry of the annex. The new facades are textured with crisp metal fins that project out as sunscreens above windows on the south-facing elevation.

One Kearny’s owners were looking for a new building that would enhance the distinctive character of the original structure and its 1960s addition, completing the tripartite ensemble. The city’s planners were looking for a building that would increase the density of the block by filling in its “missing tooth”—but they wanted it rendered in a modern vocabulary that would conform to the design guidelines for San Francisco’s downtown building conservation district. Historic preservation advocates were looking for a design sympathetic to the styles of both the original building and the Charles Moore annex. The project’s challenge was to satisfy all of these stakeholders, creating an urban infill element respectful of the past but bearing the stamp of its own time.

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Copyright: Office of Charles F. Bloszies, 2024