Photo of San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building at dusk with red, white, and blue lighting.

War Memorial Veterans Building Rehabilitation

City & County of San Francisco
Architectural Design, Planning
Historic Preservation
San Francisco, CA
Project type
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Glumac, SJ Engineers, The Preview Group, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Auerbach Glasow French
Herbst Theatre after rehabilitation

Serving veterans, the community, and the arts

Constructed in 1932, the Veterans Building has long been a part of the San Francisco landscape. The twin to the Opera House, the building is part of the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center and was also the location for the 1945 signing of the United Nations Charter.

The Veterans Building was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, but the building remained open until this rehabilitation in 2013. This project was part of a broader effort to revitalize the Civic Center by the City & County of San Francisco. The project was intended to preserve and modernize the Veterans Building to better serve veterans, arts organizations, and the community as a whole.

Balancing modern technology with historic integrity

Honoring its colorful history, our design team took great care to preserve the building. The project repaired the building envelope—terra cotta with a granite base—completed a seismic upgrade, installed new building systems, reconfigured interior spaces, and upgraded accessibility. As the historic preservation architect, we completed the historic structure report, designed interior repairs to historic spaces and materials, and reviewed the entire project for compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The project is LEED Gold certified.

Continuing to support San Francisco arts and veterans

Historically, this building has played a major role in the lives of San Francisco veterans and the local art community. Now, it will continue to do so. The rehabilitation upgraded offices and restored the 916-seat Herbst Theatre, often used as a cultural event space, and created the new 4,400-square-foot San Francisco Arts Commission gallery.


  • 2016 Preservation Design Award – Rehabilitation, California Preservation Foundation
  • 2016 Special Commendation – Historic Preservation, AIA San Francisco Design Awards
  • 2016 Award of Merit – Renovation/Restoration, California's Best Projects, Engineering News-Record

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