National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco
The National Carbon Company Building is a major architectural example of the reinforced concrete industrial structures built in San Francisco in the early 20th century.
Designed by prominent local architect/engineer Maurice Couchot and built in 1917, it clearly describes its period of construction. With its attention to practical considerations as well as aesthetics, it exhibits the ambiguity typical of the City Beautiful Movement popular in San Francisco at that time.
Foremost, it is an industrial structure built with the latest technology and materials. It featured reinforced concrete construction, a sophisticated ventilation system, a sprinkler system, and an intercommunications system of telephones, pneumatic tubes and spiral chutes. But on top of its industrial design Couchot applied oversize classical ornamentation such as High Style door surrounds, spandrel panels and medallions. These features, as well as its scale, distinguish the building and make it highly visible in its South of Market Street industrial neighborhood.
Nearby industrial structures dating from the same era (1905 to 1930) are of brick or reinforced concrete construction. Although similar in function and construction, there are few that match the National Carbon Co. Building in scale or prominence. The architect Maurice Couchot was well-qualified to design industrial structures.
Adapted from the NRHP Nomination Form
In 2012, Airbnb signed a ten year lease for 170,000 square feet in the building.