Magazine article Sunset

Revitalizing a 10-Story San Francisco Landmark

Magazine article Sunset

Revitalizing a 10-Story San Francisco Landmark

Article excerpt

Revitalizing a 10-story San Francisco landmark

Fool-the-eye murals, a central sculpture court open to the sky, and three art galleries have revitalized a San Francisco landmark: the 10-story Monadnock Building at 685 Market Street, next door to the Sheraton Palace Hotel. Embellishments have turned a venerable office building into a magnet for architectural history buffs and art lovers alike, making the building the latest example of renewed vitality along this section of Market.

The refurbished 1907 facade remains a sedate essay in the commercial classicism of its era, but once you enter the lobby the pace is presto, and the imagery operatic. Trompe-l'oeil murals by artists Mark Evans and Charley Brown cover a new barrel vault, turning the entire space into the loggia of some extravagant palazzo where a party is in progress. Peering down over a balcony, the Renaissance-costumed guests featured in the murals include such prominent Bay Area figures as John Muir, Isadora Duncan, and Bernard Maybeck.

At the center of the building, the open-air sculpture court rises to the full height of the structure. The muralists have been at work here, too, adding pediments over the windows, an occasional pigeon, and a monumental scallop-shell cornice at the top story. Real water splashes from two bronze lions' heads under a trellis at one end of the court. The dominant sculpture is a bronze architectural work by Herk Van Tongeren combining column, obelisk, and sphere on a stairstepped base.

Art lovers should enjoy the galleries on the second floor. While prices for works may be prohibitive for many viewers, visitors interested in the museum-quality works are welcome to browse. …

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