Renovation to revitalize Civic Center

A major green project city officials say will help revitalize the downtrodden Civic Center area and boost local employment will be spearheaded by a San Francisco company.

Downtown-based Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co. recently netted a $3.37 million contract to help renovate and modernize the 73-year-old building at 50 United Nations Plaza, which has been vacant since 2007, spokeswoman Gene Gibson said.

When construction tentatively ends in late 2013, the 350,000-square-foot building located at the dilapidated eastern entrance to the Civic Center will house regional offices for the U.S. General Services Administration.

The GSA is sinking $121 million in federal stimulus funds into the classic structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The project includes a seismic upgrade and a long list of installations that are meant to enhance the building’s energy efficiency, including photovoltaic panels and modernizations to the heating, ventilation, plumbing, electrical and lighting systems, according to the GSA.

The plan is for the finished building to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The design phase of the project began in September. The revamp comes at an ideal time for job-hungry San Francisco. It will create or maintain at least 1,400 jobs during the full duration of the project, Gibson said.

That’s good news for San Franciscans. The number of unemployed residents grew by 17,800 between October of this year and October 2008, according to a recent city controller report.

The project also is meant to revitalize the area surrounding the building, which has been riddled with drug dealing, violence and general loitering.

Last year, Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled plans to turn the Civic Center and surrounding buildings into an environmental showcase, revealing the Civic Center Sustainability District at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Recent changes to the area include improved lighting at U.N. Plaza, new fencing at the BART entrance at Market and Seventh streets to increase visibility, and car restrictions on Market Street that were implemented to make the area safer and more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists.

As many as 400 employees working at the GSA’s current offices, 450 Golden Gate Ave., are scheduled to move into the building in early 2014, Gibson said.

The GSA will continue to maintain offices at its Golden Gate Avenue location, she said.

 

Significant events for 50 U.N. Plaza

1927: Congress approves $2.5 million for new San Francisco Federal Building
1930: San Francisco donates site for building
1934-1936: Building constructed
1975: United Nations Plaza construction commences
1987: San Francisco Civic Center designated a National Historic Landmark
2007: Building vacated
2009: Project to overhaul building begins
Late 2013: Project to overhaul building scheduled to end

Building Facts
Location: 50 United Nations Plaza
Architect: Arthur Brown Jr.
Construction dates: 1934-1936
Architectural style: Second Renaissance Revival
Landmark status: Designated a National Historic Landmark as a Contributing Building to the San Francisco Civic Center
Primary material: Granite
Prominent features: Classical facade with upper-story colonnade; ornate entrance vestibule, lobby and elevator lobby; naval commandant’s office

Source: U.S. General Services Administration

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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