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Photography: Cesar Rubio

The One California office tower, at the intersection of two prominent streets, had for years turned its back on Market Street—one of San Francisco’s major thoroughfares. The chance to revive the building’s lobby and outdoor areas offered the possibility to make a stronger connection between the building and the city. And a bonus: a new place for urban life along Market.


“We realized that we could create a new public open space in the city, near a BART station that visually and physically reconnects Market and California streets,” explains Brereton Director of Architecture Michael J. Castro, who practices urban design as well as architecture. The clients jumped at the idea, but it needed careful intervention: A parking garage entrance obstructed part of the open space. Brereton turned this into an asset: a new stepped plaza lets people sit at different levels with views of the surrounding neighborhood. It’s become a popular spot to linger over lunch in the heart of the city’s financial district.


New light-colored stone paving around the building forges a strong link to the street grid, while the street address becomes some playful branding and sculpture with the tower’s sculptural “ONE” on Market and California streets.


The tower had always been entered from California Street, with a long vista down its elevator lobby that ended in a forest of planters that blocked the visual connection to Market. The designers opened the view. New granite paving extends from California Street through the lobby and out to Market as a subtle connector—a seamless link between the city, the sidewalk, and the new revived lobby.

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