Honor Guard: San Francisco’s historic Veterans Building pays homage to those who served in World War I and other foreign wars

The Veterans Building houses the War Memorial staff, the city’s Arts Commission, the Opera’s learning center and practice/performance node, the Green Room reception venue, and the 916-seat Herbst Theatre.

November 21, 2017 |
the first-floor Arts Commission Gallery

The first-floor Arts Commission Gallery. Kyle Jeffers Photography.

The San Francisco War Memorial Veterans complex—a stunning example of the City Beautiful movement that includes the Veterans Building, the Opera House, and the Memorial Court—was built in 1932 to honor veterans of World War I. The Beaux-Arts Veterans Building, designed by Arthur Brown, Jr., and the Opera House jointly hosted the signing of the United Nations Treaty (1945) and that of the Peace Treaty with Japan (1951).

The Veterans Building houses the War Memorial staff, the city’s Arts Commission, the Opera’s learning center and practice/performance node, the Green Room reception venue, and the 916-seat Herbst Theatre. It contributes to the San Francisco Civic Center National Historic District.

 

The Veterans BuildingThe Veterans Building. Kyle Jeffers Photography.

 

The steel-framed structure, clad in terra cotta, sustained severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The Carey & Co.–led team used a performance-based approach to design the seismic upgrades. Through nonlinear dynamic analysis, they created a system of “rocking concrete shear walls” that eliminated the need for deep foundations and greatly reduced the shear force imparted on the walls.

To allow the walls to rock but still transfer shear to the foundation, they designed an innovative “shear lug,” which allowed the base of each wall to resist lateral movement but permit uplift. They installed 250 of these shear lugs, constructed of steel pipes cast into the new walls and grouted into a greased sleeve in the existing foundation. Analyses showed that the system would restrict wall lift to about 0.5 inches at the ends under maximum considered earthquake shaking.

 

The 916-seat Herbst TheatreThe 916-seat Herbst Theatre. Kyle Jeffers Photography.

 

The project team also carefully protected eight 25-foot-high murals in the Herbst Theatre that were originally designed by Sir Francis Brangwyn for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

 

Project Summary

 

Silver Award Winner

Building Team: Carey & Co., A TreanorHL Company (submitting firm, architect) San Francisco Public Works (AOR) Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SEOR, building enclosure/waterproofing engineer) SJ Engineers (ME, plumbing) Glumac Associates (EE) Charles Pankow Builders (GC).

Details: 230,000 sf. Total cost: $156.3 million. Construction time: July 2013 to January 2016. Delivery method: Design-bid-build.

 

See all of the 2017 Reconstruction Award winners here

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