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Best Skyscraper San Francisco 2006 - Russ Building

Russ Building

Russ Building

235 Montgomery

San Francisco, CA 94104


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The Russ Building is a sprawling, towering, beautifully austere skyscraper in the grand Daily Planet tradition, all sleek lines and proportioned elevation and washed-beige splendor. Architect George W. Kelham, whose predilection for Roman temples and Gothic cathedrals can be detected in his designs for the old Federal Reserve Bank on Sansome and the city's first real skyscraper, the Standard Oil Building, modeled the Russ after Chicago's imposingly Gothic Tribune Tower. The structure's vestibule and foyer have an undeniably monkish feel about them, with carved, vaulted ceilings and medieval design work throughout, and an entrance flanked with large empty niches that would've been occupied by saints in a more devout setting. Rising above this entry and its snarling gargoyles are 31 gracefully ascending floors of vaulted windows and impregnable stonework that take up an entire city block. When it was completed in 1927 at the height of a high rise–happy building boom, the Russ was the tallest structure west of Chicago; it remained the city's most vertiginous skyscraper until 1964, when the Bank of America on California and Montgomery took its place.
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