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project description

Shanghai Commercial Bank

Shanghai Commercial Bank is a Hong Kong-based financial institution that commissioned this 14,500 sf building to provide regional retail and corporate banking services on the west coast and located in Alhambra California. The concept for a classical bank building and contemporary form is found in its symmetrical and elegantly curving composition of yellowish GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) walls which also gives the building its substance and appearance of solidity.  The roof, of platinum colored metal fascia, is supported by slender metal columns and seemingly appears to float. This illusion is accentuated by a ribbon of green glass which wraps its way around the entire building in the form of a clerestory.

The Rotunda rises above the building and, in plan, serves as the anchor point around which the rest of the office space is symmetrically arranged.  As in classical buildings, the Rotunda acts as the central high space and will be used for receptions and other public activities.  A skylight, which rings the Rotunda, and the 16 windows which puncture it, infuse the space with ample light and imbues it with a sense of drama.  At the heart of the building, the Rotunda is supported by eight columns and may be entered from the North and South through two glass-faced entrance lobbies.  The south lobby is double-storied and faces the main spine of the city, East Valley Boulevard while the north lobby overlooks the parking lot and the hills Alhambra is recognized for.  From the Rotunda, one is led into the high double-storied East and West office spaces lit by clerestoreys and windows at the lower level.  One can also ascend to the second story via the elevator or a curving staircase that leads to the mezzanine walk.  The mezzanine partially circumambulates the Rotunda and provides access to the boardroom as well as to support staff areas on the western edge of the building.  These elements of circulation, both vertical and horizontal, also become the elements of adornment lined with steel and wood.

Beyond being a visual success the new Regional Office is also notable in that many environmentally sensitive design elements were employed. Alternative, non-endangered wood was used and an under-floor air distribution system was utilized.  This system is not only environmentally friendly, but also reduces the amount of dust in the air thus, healthier for the bank employees.

After construction was completed at the end of 2000, the building design was recognized and its architectural firm awarded the United States Congress Congressional award and honored by Alhambra Chamber of Commerce with an award in appreciation for its outstanding contribution to the City of Alhambra.