San Francisco rededicates renovated veterans building with new art spaces


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) —  San Francisco city officials today rededicated the War Memorial Veterans Building following the completion of an extensive $156 million renovation project.

The upgrade, approved in 2012, repaired damage caused by the 1989 earthquake and added seismic retrofitting, removed hazardous materials, refurbished the building’s historic Herbst Theater and Green Room and brought

the building into compliance with current codes and standards.

City veterans groups housed in the building will return to upgraded offices and meeting spaces. They will share the building with the San Francisco Arts Commission and Grants for the Arts, as well as a new 4,400

square foot San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery showcasing local artists, which is set to open in January.

In addition, the San Francisco Opera will invest $21 million in private funds to create offices and two new performance spaces on the fourth floor as part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera.

Thomas Horn, chairman of the War Memorial board’s Veterans Building Project Committee, said the building was initially slated for repairs and renovation after the 1989 earthquake, but cost overruns on repairs to City Hall postponed the work until recently, when Mayor Ed Lee helped push the project forward.

Lee, speaking at today’s rededication, said he had a “passion for this building” that began when his daughters performed in it as high school students.

Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed both spoke today of working in the Veterans Building when it served as temporary city offices during Mayor Willie Brown’s extensive renovation of City Hall.

“We got to realize what a special place this was,” Lee said.

Other officials attending today’s rededication included Brown, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Assemblyman Mark Leno and Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu.

The Veterans Building was built in 1932 as part of the War Memorial complex on Van Ness Avenue that includes the Opera House, Memorial Court and recently completed Veteran’s Memorial.

It was designed by Arthur Brown, Jr., the same architect who designed San Francisco City Hall, the Civic Auditorium and the former San Francisco Public Library, which now houses the Asian Art Museum.

The building’s history includes the signing of the United Nations Charter by President Harry Truman, which occurred on the Herbst Theater stage in 1945. The Japanese Peace Treaty was also drawn up in the building in 1951.

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