FrontRunners: San Francisco Centennial

One of the few buildings that remained standing in downtown San Francisco after the great earthquake and fire of 1906 was the Fairmont San Francisco (800.441.1414, www.fairmont.com), an opulent, Corinthian-columned hotel scheduled to debut later that year. The property instead became a command post for city officials, who sat on crates in the hotel’s lobby while plotting strategies to rebuild San Francisco.

To prepare for the centennial of its scheduled premiere, the Fairmont (which opened as a hotel one year to the day after the earthquake) began an $85 million renovation in 1999. The project incorporated each of the property’s public spaces and 591 guest rooms, and culminated this year with the refurbishment of the Fairmont’s penthouse suite. Spanning the entire eighth floor, the 6,000-square-foot space includes three bedrooms, a living and dining room, and a circular library where the world’s leaders drafted the United Nations Charter in 1945.

Photo by Oli Tennent
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