The architecture of money

Occupying smart offices with sheer endless views over the skyline, banks do not just speculate high, but even work in palaces above the clouds. Leading banks administer our money from impressive company headquarters that fulfill the latest standards in sustainability, design and functionality. The most imposing and innovative designs of notable bank buildings from all over the world have now been compiled by Emporis (, the international provider of building data.

One of the most singular bank buildings is undoubtedly the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. It’s the first building outside the U.S. to break the 1,000-foot mark and, even today, one of the world’s tallest corporate headquarters. Its sharp-edged appearance, the triangular elements of its form, the shiny reflective facade and the metal panels that are illuminated at night all serve to make the tower reminiscent of a gigantic crystal.

A further interesting example of imaginative design in bank buildings is the Macquarie Bank Centre in Sydney. The sophisticated interior design of the comparatively low building does entirely without load-bearing columns and provides light-flooded, colourful workspaces that jut out into the atrium at various levels and in various shapes. The building, constructed sustainably, is supported by a silver-grey network of steel beams laid out evenly around the blue glass of the facade.

That spectacular architecture has its price is proved by the Bank of America Tower in Manhattan, Costing a billion dollars, the tower – which serves the currently largest U.S. bank as a prestigious administration building – is one of the most eye-catching in this city of skyscrapers. The mast atop the total 1,200-foot-tall building is not an antenna that has been attached to the roof, but a permanent element towering up out of the glass-clad structure. In addition, the skyscraper has been commended for being particularly eco-friendly and energy-saving.

A single bank building in Canada made the list: Toronto’s Scotia Plaza. Its dark-red facade and V-shaped top particularly catch the eye.

Surprisingly, the desire to build prestigious bank buildings is not even on the decrease in countries rocked by the global economic crisis, such as Cyprus or Spain. As recently as 2009, the Co-Op Bank, Cyprus, moved into an exclusive new designer building. In Madrid, too, it will not be long before the next major project is completed: the BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank, is building a new company headquarters from an extravagant circular design by star architects Herzog & de Meuron.


Emporis is a leading database of information about building and construction projects, based in Germany. For over a decade Emporis has helped companies, organizations and individuals stay informed about the building industry. The Emporis Skyscraper Award is the world’s most renowned prize for high-rise architecture.

For more info, visit