Ghirardelli Square

GhirardelliSquare-sig.jpg
San Francisco, CA
United States
Ghirardelli Square

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company complex was built in the late 1890s by Domingo Ghirardelli.The complex served as the company headquarters until 1962, when civic leader William Roth purchased the buildings. He engaged Lawrence Halprin & Associates and architects Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons to redevelop the one-block site. Opened in 1964, this adaptive re-use project created a novel urban shopping and dining experience. Halprin termed the reuse of the buildings “Recycling” and conceived of the shopping center as “the Beehive of Activity.” Built before the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, this concept became a model for other repurposed sites across the country. The design retained the original signage and reused the red brick factory buildings and other structures, including the 1915 French Gothic Clock Tower. Steps and ramps choreograph movement over the hilly site, linking the restaurants, shops, and tree-shaded terraces. These spaces were designed to be active outdoor rooms used for festivals and programmed entertainment with remarkable views over San Francisco Bay. New elements included the Wurster building, an innovative underground parking garage by Halprin, and site-specific lighting, furnishings, and fountains. In 1982 new paving, graphics, and a staircase were added. The property, an early and successful example of historic preservation, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places that same year.