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Bring a light jacket, water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes as we explore old and new
areas of the city all exploring the theme "Secret City."

Nolli Plan Walk: 
Financial District 2.0

September 12, 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Start Point: Post Street entrance to

Crocker Galleria

AIA Member: $15 | General: $25

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Explore San Francisco’s Financial District through a guided tour of the rich network of semi-public pathways extending into hotel lobbies, banking halls, retail arcades, a historic church, and even onto city rooftops. Inspired by the iconic figure-ground Nolli Plan of Renaissance Rome, see how the public pedestrian (street) realm of the city is joined almost seamlessly with a complementary realm of semi-public (off-street) pedestrian spaces. Tour led by SAA Interiors and Architecture and Page & Turnbull.

Historic Pub Crawl

September 14, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

6:00 PM: Elixir (3200 16th Street)
7:00 PM: Elbo Room (647 Valencia Street)
8:00 PM: Homestead (2301 Folsom Street)

Free Admission (registration required)

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Join the AIA Historic Resources Committee on our 11th Annual Pub Crawl as we explore three legacy bars in the Mission. Housed in buildings dating back to 1906, learn about their storied pasts from “soft drink parlors” during Prohibition to one of the nation’s first lesbian dance clubs. Join us for a drink, meet some new friends, and learn the secrets of some great San Francisco bars! 


Hidden in Plain Sight: A Secret City Tour of Market Street

September 16, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Start point: Meet at UN Plaza at the Simon Bolivar Statue (western edge of UN Plaza & Hyde)

AIA Member: $15 | General: $25

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This tour will touch on larger themes of history and social justice, infrastructure and ecology, and climate change and resilience along San Francisco’s Market Street. Learn about historic buildings, hidden tunnels, buried ships, the language of street paint, secret messages from fire hydrants, an investigation of the city’s former coastal edge—and more!
Are you curious about the energy coursing through the posts and cables high above your head? Do you wonder what is happening underneath the sidewalk, right below your feet? Have you longed to decipher the cryptic symbols painted boldly on the street? This tour of Market Street hosted by the Better Market Street design team from San Francisco Public Works will reveal the fascinating stories behind the everyday objects often overlooked by the casual pedestrian.
The walking tour will begin at UN Plaza, and will continue north, stopping along the way to hear from storytellers and subject matter experts. The tour will touch on larger themes of history, social justice, infrastructure and ecology, and climate change and resilience through stops at designated street corners to compare historic images with present day views, discussion of the prohibition corridors built to smuggle alcohol and later used during the gay rights movements as escape tunnels during bar raids, an introduction to the lexicon of street paint, secret messages from fire hydrants, an investigation of the city’s former coastal edge—and more! At the conclusion of the tour, the group will gather at the Ferry Building for further conversation and refreshments (tour participants will purchase their own refreshments).
Tour leaders from San Francisco Public Works Better Market Street Design team will be available to answer participants' questions about what was discussed on the tour, and about what is planned for the future of Market

Secret Presidio

September 16, 12:00 – 4:00 PM

Start Point: Presidio Visitors Center, 210 Lincoln Blvd.  [MAP]

$15 AIA Member | $25 General  

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Join AIASF's Committee on the Environment (COTE) and discover the green design within the Presidio. We will learn how the Presidio came to be as it is, and how it’s currently morphing to better fit the needs of San Francisco today.  The tour will be led by Rob Wallace, an architect who has worked for the Presidio Trust for 25 years, lived in the Presido, and given many a tour of his Secret Presidio, as our Presidio expert. Some of the main points along the tour will be headed up by designers on the project. 

Along the tour we will see vernacular sustainability elements persisting alongside state-of-the-art design, in a setting which all works to support a sustainable future, followed by a picnic in the park at the end of the tour.  Come unearth the native Ohlone settlements, adobe walls from the early 19th century, regenerative sustainable design of the 21st century, and natural art installations celebrating this unique place.  There will be tour maps to distribute to the tour group as well as to have at the main points along the route for the whole month so individuals can also do the tour on their own. 


Tour highlights:

  • The freeway between the Main military Post and Crissy Field has proved a formidable barrier, so when the road became seismically unsound due to the '89 earthquake, the reaction was not to rebuild as it was, but to build it better. Thus the freeway was buried, and the Tunnel Tops project will be built above, bridging the main military post and the beach front for pedestrians.  James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) won the design competition and is now collaborating with EHDD to get it built. JCFO is a landscape design firm known for the Highline, among other high profile park projects, and EHDD is a San Francisco firm, well known for their holistic forward-thinking sustainable design. This project is slated to finish in 2018, but is currently under construction. A designer on the project from EHDD will help lead this portion of the tour.

  • Officers Club boasts the original Adobe walls and amazing views. For this portion Rob Wallace will give us extra insight, not available to the regular public. 

  • Sessions Restuarant is a new construction, designed by Lundberg Designs.


  • Due to the duration of the tour, please be sure to eat in advance; the group will gather at a local watering hole for food and beverage afterwards.​

  • Dress accordingly and wear comfortable shoes; be prepared for changes in the weather.

  • If you are driving note that meters will be running; it is highly recommended to Lyft, Uber or taxi.

  • If you are taking public transportation, be sure to check bus routes in advance as several may not run on the weekends to the Presidio. The following are recommended shuttle and bus routes to and from the Presidio:

1906 Revisited: Downtown San Francisco in Earthquake, Fire, and Recovery

September 19, 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Start Point: Southwest corner of Market and

New Montgomery Streets
(corner of Palace Hotel)

AIA / SEAONC Member: $15 | General: $25

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Join Stephen Tobriner, Professor Emeritus of Architectural History, UC Berkeley, and author of Bracing for Disaster; Earthquake-Resistant Architecture and Engineering in San Francisco, 1838-1933, for a walk through the hidden structural history of early buildings in downtown San Francisco. We will look behind the facades of buildings constructed before and after 1906 to discover how architects and engineers did and did not address the danger of earthquake and fire.  We will also examine how the oldest high-rise building in San Francisco has been retrofitted to withstand future earthquakes.  By the end of this tour you will have a new awareness the structure of buildings and the complexity of designing seismically-resistant construction. 


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Founded in 1936, they have completed more than 10,000 projects in over 50 countries.


Lead designers and architectural professionals will lead a walking tour of SOM projects that lend themselves to this year’s "Secret City" theme.  All projects on the tour are located in the Financial District. Although, the tour will primarily be a flat, easy walk, it is recommended to wear closed, comfortable walking shoes. Light refreshments and a short presentation which will provide  more background information to the projects along with little-known anecdotes, urban context and design insights.

**Note: this no longer starts at  SOM, One Front Street; new starting point: One Maritime (Alcoa Building)**

"Secret City" Walking Tour

September 22, 5:00 - 7:00 PM

New Starting Point: One Maritime (Alcoa Building) 

AIA Member: $15 | General: $25

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