Rincon Center in May 2006
|Location||101--199 Mission St., San Francisco, California|
|Area||1.9 acres (0.77 ha)|
|Built by||George A. Fuller Construction Co.|
|Architect||Gilbert Stanley Underwood|
|Architectural style||Streamline Moderne|
|NRHP Reference #||79000537|
|Added to NRHP||November 16, 1979|
Rincon Center is a complex of shops, restaurants, offices, and apartments in 'South of Market' in Downtown San Francisco, California. It comprises an entire city block, bounded by Mission, Howard, Spear, and Steuart Streets. There are two buildings. 
The original Rincon Annex building is a former United States Post Office, designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the Streamline Moderne style, and completed in 1940.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The exterior of the building is decorated by dolphins in stone relief friezes above the doorways and windows.
The interior features the renowned "History of California" mural, composed of 27 watercolor murals painted by the Russian immigrant muralist Anton Refregier, from 1941 to 1948 under the Federal Art Project of the Work Projects Administration. The murals, in the Social realism style, depict the history of California and San Francisco's role in it. As the murals were completed immediately following World War II, they generated fierce controversies. Refregier's detractors criticized his artistic style and questioned his political leanings. The controversy eventually reached the U.S. Congress, where critics called for the murals to be destroyed. Ironically, it was the murals that led to the preservation of the post office lobby as part of the Rincon Center development.  
In the 1980s the building was made available by the United States Postal Service for development acquisition. The property was eventually developed by a partnership headed by Perini Land & Development Company. The design of the late 1980s mixed-use Rincon Center was led by Scott Johnson of Pereira Associates, the firm founded by William Pereira, designer of the Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest building in San Francisco. 
A new 23-story mixed-use building was added on the south side of the block that contains a new post office, offices, and 320 apartments. In addition, two stories were added atop Underwood's original Rincon Annex building and a large atrium was cut into the interior. The complex was completed in 1988. 
The atrium has a food court on the lower level and balconies connected to office space on the upper levels. The atrium is topped by a 200-foot (61 m) long skylight and features the central and distinctive floor to skylight "Water Column" installation art work. It was designed by the contemporary artist Doug Hollis. The water feature is a continuous 85-foot (26 m) column of water drops, coming from an eight-foot by eight-foot acrylic glass box with some 4,000 holes in it placed at the ceiling level. 
San Francisco City Guides leads free walking tours of the murals twice a month (http://sfcityguides.org/desc.html?tour=41). Discover the controversies that swirled around the artist and the murals he created, as well as the partisan bickering and Cold War hysteria they provoked. City Guides is a program of the San Francisco Public Library and a partner of the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
|Images of Rincon Annex|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "City of San Francisco Designated Landmarks". City of San Francisco. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- Wordpress: Rincon Center . accessed 4.3.2013
- "Art (and History) on Trial: Historic Murals of Rincon Center" . accessed 4.3.2013
- Frantz, Douglas (1993). From the Ground Up: The Business of Building in the Age of Money. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08399-8.
- Sawyer, Michelle. "Anton Refregier: Renaissance Man of WPA". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- Mathews, Jane de Hart (1976). "Art and Politics in Cold War America". The American Historical Review (American Historical Association) 81 (4): 762–787. doi:10.2307/1864779. JSTOR 1864779. 0002-8762.
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