Instantly get transported to one of the most picturesque cities in the world, San Francisco, with this replica of the infamous Coit Tower. Believed by locals to resemble a fire hose, it was donated to the residents of San Francisco by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires in the early days of the city's history, when the official Fire Department did not yet exist!
…Fires in the city – which broke out regularly in the wooden buildings – were extinguished by several volunteer fire companies.
Coit was one of the more eccentric characters in the history of North Beach and Telegraph Hill, smoking cigars and wearing trousers long before it was socially acceptable for women to do so. She was an avid gambler and often dressed like a man in order to gamble in the males-only establishments that dotted North Beach.
Coit Tower also represents the work of a master, Arthur Brown Jr. Although the project architect was Henry T. Howard, and much of the work was executed by John A. Baur it is noted that it was Brown who designed its concept, shape, and proportions. It was completed on October 8, 1933, just a few years after Lillie's death. I think she would be happy to see such a monument raised in her honor!
…I'm fascinated by this structure!
I'm all about unique things – and the story, as well as the design approach and architectural importance of this particular monument are second to none.
Over my career I spent many years working in the Embarcadero area – all had offices in the area: Autodesk, IBM, Microsoft, etc, and so I would always go for a walk in the foothills of Telegraph Hill, with Coit Tower literally towering above my head. I instantly fell in love with its design and knew I had to ‘study it’ further…
The main tower section is quite beautiful in itself. It is cylindrical in its shape and consists of 24 grooves, centers of which are equally positioned 15° apart.
Upon further examination of Arthur Brown Jr.'s creation, you begin to notice that the whole tower is indeed quite mathematical in its design, especially as it enters the crown.
V1 vs V2. V2 was completely redesigned from scratch to be more realistic and to be suitable for large prints. ;)
Another interesting observation to make, and something that is not possible to know without blueprints (or unless you really study the design), is that everything “originates from the center” – like slices of a pie. Once decompiled, these design elements are quite basic in their initial geometric shape. It's as if the creator was using Tinkercad to design it… a work of a true design genius!
The difference between my initial design thinking, vs architect's. I do prefer the V2. :)
The public park on Telegraph Hill where Coit Tower was built, once called Pioneer Park, was an observation and signalling station in 1849, and was dedicated to the city in 1876 as open space. A narrow two lane paved road curls around the hill in the residential neighborhood and arrives at the top of the hill at the parking circle. The parking area is bounded by a sidewalk and a low wall that divides the public area from the landscaped slope down. In the center of the parking area is a 1957 statue of Christopher Columbus surrounded by a marble wall and concrete walkway.
The crown consists of 8 columns, 'single groove' in width each, that are joined by archways which are equal to the width of 'two grooves'.
The reason why I keep bring up the 'grooves', is because majority of artists who recreate the tower via any graphical or physical means, seem to get this glaring detail completely wrong.
Regardless, these columns are perhaps the most complex pieces of geometry in this particular design, and are true mind-benders indeed! Very cool to be able to visualize things without walls…
Atop of this arched structure sits an observatory, 55m (180') above the ground. This observatory has two main levels: main being the “Belvedere” (one with the railing), and the observation deck , or the “Lantern Level”.
The Lantern Level consists of 8 [reverse] rounded window wall panels (a detail that many artists also get wrong), featuring 3 small-sized, arch-shaped windows per panel, with 24 in total.
Perhaps one of the most unique features of Coit Tower is yet to come…
There aren't many towers in the bay, or even the world that feature a similar open-top design; so to finish it off, the architect created exactly that – an arcade featuring a giant skylight. “No roof…”