California Tower

A landmark presence in San Diego’s Balboa Park, The California Tower is an architectural and literal highpoint of structures designed by Bertram Goodhue for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. After a closure of almost 80 years, ARG began work with the Museum of Man (now the Museum of Us) to reopen the tower to the public. In close coordination with the San Diego Building Department, ARG incorporated essential life safety and accessibility improvements without compromising the tower’s historic integrity.

The rehabilitation allowed the tower to serve its original role as a public viewing platform and provided an accessible interactive exhibit at ground level. It was completed in time for its centennial reopening on New Year’s Day in 2015. As a part of the project’s funding strategy, ARG designed backlit donor plaques mounted on each of the 125 stair risers on the way to the top.


Read more about the process here, The View From California Tower.

For a full list of awards and honors received by the California Tower, please click HERE.



The California Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in the Library of Congress.

As part of the interpretive exhibit on the ground floor, visitors can control live cameras on the eighth-floor viewing balconies and engage with an expanded presentation of the guided tour on a large touch screen.  The presentation includes a historical account by ARG Principal Kitty Vieth.

Photography courtesy of  Mike Torrey and ARG 

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