Designed in the 1920s by noted Bay Area architect Timothy Pflueger, 140 New Montgomery was San Francisco’s first high-rise building and for eighty years served as headquarters for the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. In 2007 Wilson Meany purchased the building and, in 2010, hired Perkins + Will to help create the premier San Francisco business address to drive innovation. The reinvention of 140 New Montgomery incorporates contemporary details and state-of-the-art systems into one of the City’s legacy buildings, honoring the rich legacy and architectural detail of this landmark. Although 140’s interior included dramatic historic spaces such as the iconic main lobby, it had major structural deficiencies, eccentric floor plates, inefficient cores, dilapidated windows and façade, and a utilitarian service yard at the back.
The renovation’s centerpieces are its highly flexible office floor plan, an innovative seismic bracing system, and an elegantly restored lobby. By reworking the building cores we maximized access to light, air, and views and provided flexibility for a variety of office layouts. The restored exterior, replacement windows, sculpture garden and outdoor dining areas, high-end street-oriented restaurants, new exterior entries, and glass canopies provide a visible and welcoming presence in the neighborhood and city, asserting both the historic and the contemporary. Adjacent to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and arts district, the lobby and garden include spaces for the display of contemporary photography and sculpture. Within a year of its opening, 140NM is 100% leased and has become on of the city’s most sought after addresses.
Recently I have been reflecting on 140 New Montgomery and on the many legacy buildings from the banal to the sublime—140 and the Ferry Building being part of the latter—that my talented colleagues and I have had the privilege to transform here in the Bay Area. For me, it is the layers of time and place embodied in our buildings, streets and parks that make cities interesting, nuanced and vibrant, the places that we love to visit and live in. The great urban historian and urbanist Lewis Mumford stated years ago that every city writes its autobiography in the buildings it builds. Right now and as demonstrated in our 140 New Montgomery Street project, San Francisco is also writing its autobiography in the critical buildings it retains and reinvents.