SF Ferry Building to be painted its original color as part of 2-year restoration

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The San Francisco Ferry Building, a 120-year-old historic landmark, is about to get a serious makeover.

The destination along the waterfront will undergo a two-year renovation project, including repairs to the façade and a new paint job, among many other upgrades. 

Drew Gordon, senior vice president at Hudson Pacific Properties, joined KTVU’s The 4 on Wednesday to give us the details on this ambitious project. 

“We’re going to be doing some major restoration work to bring [The Ferry Building] back to its historic integrity, but…we’re going to restore the color back to its original gray hue,” Gordon said. 

The distinct color is called “Ferry Building Gray,” by Hudson Pacific Properties. The Ferry Building opened in 1898. The architect, A.P. Brown wanted the building to represent local colors, Gordon explained. 

“He found a sandstone in Colusa County, which adorns the façade currently. The story gets really interesting. In the ‘70s, there was some damage on the building that had to be repaired,” Gordon said. 

He said the owners at the time brought on a firm to make the repairs. When they applied the material to the building, it became discolored. The restoration work done to the building at that time is irreversible. 

“Because sandstone is very porous, you could not reverse that action. The only way to adorn it was to paint it. The Port of San Francisco worked with local heritage groups. We found an old piece of the sandstone itself that had not been discolored.” 

The developers worked with Sherwin-Williams and came up with a perfect mix that matches the original color. 

There will also be some upgrades to the iconic clock tower that has greeted many a tourist, but Gordon said it’s a little too early to tell exactly what will be done there. 

“I think our goal with the building not only is to restore it back to its original luster, but [also] to make it more relevant to not only today’s customer, but to future generations as well.”

He said the Ferry Building has started activating in new ways. For instance, on Wednesday’s, you can go for “Wellness Wednesday”. You can go up on the Grand Hall for a free yoga session. 

This past Sunday was the first time they held a Ferry Building Flea Market in that same area. He estimates 1,500 people showed up. “We’re trying to attract a new customer to enter the building.” 

As far as the renovation goes, Gordon said the majority of the damage is on the west side, because it faces both the sun and wind. That side will be restored first before the building is painted. 

The restoration will try to minimize impact on retailers and should not disrupt ferry service. “We’re going to phase it over time, but you’ll start seeing scaffolding going up soon.” 

Gordon said no public funding will be used in the restoration. 

Work on the restoration is set to begin this month. Hudson Pacific and Allianz Real Estate acquired the Ferry Building in October 2018.