Cityscapes: San Francisco and Its Buildings

Paperback, 5 x 7, 128 pages,
50 full-color photographs.
ISBN: 9781597141543.


By John King

Buildings in cities are remarkable things: they provide not only shelter but touchstones of reference and recall, a language that shapes our sense of place as well as the skyline.

In sparkling prose and with full-color photography, Cityscapes looks at fifty buildings that convey a distinct slice of San Francisco. These are the buildings that are defined by bold visual moves and the ones that offer tactile delight. These are the structures you notice every time you pass by, and the ones that escape notice until the light hits them a certain way. Included are some of San Francisco’s most familiar buildings and works by some of architecture’s biggest names–but also plenty of buildings that are often ignored yet add a unique texture to this fabled place.

An outgrowth of “Cityscape,” a weekly column that debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2009, Cityscapes is part history, part guidebook, and part architectural primer. And the points it makes about specific buildings convey something true to all great cities–that every building shines in its own way as a distinctive piece in a much larger puzzle, one still being assembled before our eyes.


John King is the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic. He joined the paper in 1992 and has been in his current post since 2001. His writing on architecture and urban design has been honored by groups including the California Preservation Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the California chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2002 and 2003.