I LOVE this Mayan Art Deco Building in San Francisco. I’m sure the locals already know plenty about it, but I had no clue it even existed until I was quite literally driving by it. The facade was unlike anything I’d ever seen and I immediately started looking for a parking space. Three blocks later I got lucky. I walked back to the building and started snapping photos. The doorman looked me over and said Wanna go inside? YES! He hit the button and the doors opened… I was awestruck. I felt like I’d just entered Oz! It was Christmas Day and I think the doorman was a bit bored since the commercial space, catering primarily to medical and dental suites, were closed. He was more than happy to share historical information with me and let me take as many photos as I wanted.
Built in 1929 by renowned Architect Timothy Ludwig Plueger, the 26-story building was recently cited as the most original of San Francisco’s pre-war high-rises and one of the city’s best buildings. The lobby features rare Napoleon Grande Melange marble walls, not to mention an elaborate bronze-finished Mayan ceiling with exotic bas-relief carvings. Some of the finish work also looks to be silver and gold leafed, however, I can’t find anything online to support my observations. A three year restoration was completed in 2009 and the building was also added to the National Register of Historical Places.
Mayan Revival Architecture includes Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, Ennis House and the Millard House in Los Angeles. Wright’s son Lloyd Wright created the Sowden House in the Los Feliz district of Hollywood. Additionally there’s the Aztec Motel in Monrovia California (next on my list to visit) by Architect Robert Stacy-Judd.
This style of architecture is so rare that the average person has never heard of it. Yet when you do see it, you have no doubt you’re seeing something remarkable and quite out of the ordinary. The tribal aspect of these pre-Columbian designs seems to resonate with people on such a deep level that it’s hard to ignore. You feel in your gut that you recognize even if it’s your fist time seeing it. I for one am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to visit 450 Sutter Street just off Union Square. I hope you’ll add it to your list the next time you’re visiting San Francisco.