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Kaiser Center

Kaiser Center
Alternative names Kaiser Building
General information
Type Commercial offices
Location 300 Lakeside Drive
Oakland, California
Completed 1960
Owner The Swig Company
Roof 118.72 m (389.5 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 28
Design and construction
Architect Welton Becket
Main contractor Robert E. McKee Contractor, Inc.

Kaiser Center, also called the Kaiser Building, is a 28 story office building located at 300 Lakeside Drive, adjacent to Lake Merritt, in downtown Oakland, California, designed by the architectural firm of Welton Becket & Associates of Los Angeles. The property is bounded by Lakeside Drive, which terminates and joins Harrison Street at the site, 20th-, 21st-, and Webster-streets. When completed in 1960, it was Oakland's tallest building, as well as the largest office tower west of the Rocky Mountains.[4] A three-story office/retail building adjacent to the main tower was completed in 1963. Kaiser Center was the headquarters of Kaiser Industries, a Fortune 500 conglomerate that was headed by industrialist Edgar F. Kaiser at the time the building was constructed.

The building's roof garden was designed by San Francisco-based landscape architecture firm, Theodore Osmundson & Associates, and was the first built in the United States after World War II. While legend has it that Henry J. Kaiser occupied a penthouse apartment on the 28th floor as his personal residence for several years, by the time the building was constructed the elderly Henry J. had retired from his leadership of the Oakland-based company and moved to Honolulu. [5] It is much more likely that his son Edgar, who was in charge of Kaiser industries and a major power broker in the Bay Area by the time the building was commissioned, was the person who occupied any residential apartments. [6]According to a National Park Service study, Edgar commissioned the architecturally significant rooftop garden after the building had been designed, inspired by the gardens of Rockefeller Center in N.Y. [7]

The building is currently home to the headquarters of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which recently relocated from its former administration building atop the Lake Merritt station, due to earthquake concerns. Other tenants include the University of California Office of the President, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and California Bank & Trust.[8]


  1. ^ Kaiser Center at Emporis
  2. ^ Kaiser Center at SkyscraperPage
  3. ^ Kaiser Center at Structurae
  4. ^ Lauri Puchall (November 2006). "Looking Down on Creation". The Monthly. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Mary Morganti, Online Archive of California. "Finding Aid to the Henry J. Kaiser Papers, The Bancroft Library". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Lauren Lassleben, Online Archive of California. "Finding Aid to the Edgar F. Kaiser Papers, The Bancroft Library". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  7. ^ National Park Service. "HALS Kaiser Roof Garden". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  8. ^

External links

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