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Best New Office Building 

101 Second St. (at Mission)

Egypt under Cheops, Rome under Cesar Augustus, Mexico under Nezahualcóyotl, and San Francisco under El Rey Dot-Com are all examples of oppressive political regimes that left behind architectural legacies so felicitous it's hard to remember their eras' downsides. In the case of San Francisco, the dot-com epoch's equivalent of Cheops' Great Pyramid can be found in a 26-story office tower that opened in January, designed by local architect Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The $100 million building looks both new and classic, the sort of edifice locals will be fond of 20, 30, even 100 years from now. Hartman says he designed the building in a specifically San Franciscan frame of mind. "There are unique physical and cultural qualities in this city that I think should influence the way we think about architecture -- specifically San Francisco's natural light and climate and the city's cultural expectations for inclusion, openness, and public-spiritedness," Hartman says. The "Art Pavilion" entrance that anchors the street corner is, in a sense, a gift to San Francisco's public domain -- a naturally ventilated, light-filled glass pavilion with art, trees, and tables, connected to an espresso bar and restaurant. Like a town square, it is open to the public. Along the entire Second Street façade, pivoting glass panels can open the entire pavilion to the street on warm days. As a result, espresso-drinking bankers a century from now may not remember the meaning of the ancient word "dot-com," but they'll warmly appreciate its buildings.


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