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Hallidie Building / © SFPL Archives

Following the formation of a short-lived professional society in 1869, an association of prominent San Francisco architects founded the Pacific Coast Association of Architects in May of 1881 to protect the integrity of the profession and to standardize the conduct and practice of its members. Augustus Laver, an important founding leader of this group, submitted the petition that earned San Francisco architects their AIA charter in the spring of 1882, thereby expanding the AIA’s membership westward beyond Chicago.

In February of 1927 the San Francisco chapter was renamed the Northern California Chapter, and was incorporated on August 4, 1955. In 1980 the chapter became The American Institute of Architects, San Francisco chapter with the most recent name variation, AIA San Francisco, a Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, adopted by members in 1992.

Named for San Francisco cable car pioneer Andrew Smith Hallidie, the building is on both the California and National Register of Historic Places and was built as an investment for the University of California, Berkeley. In accordance with the school's colors, the Hallidie's decorative metal was originally painted blue and gold.

Though innovative in its use of a glass curtain wall, the building has a traditional composition. Its decorative metalwork is Gothic in style and its architectural organization has a clear base, shaft and capital. The fire escapes are integrated into the metalwork of the building and serve to frame it on either side. Though the ground floor storefronts have been altered, the building's facade remains largely unchanged. Read more about the Hallidie Restoration, an effort to rehabilitate the building's glass wall and decorative balconies and cornices.

This history was written in part by the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design Archives. These archives form Northern California’s premier collection of historical architecture and landscape architecture records. For further information, visit