Sunnyvaleâ€™s Bank of the West, originally a branch of the First National Bank of San Jose, was designed and built to reflect the general optimism of the space-age. The modern bank building, encompassed in a giant curtain wall of glass, stands as a roadside advertisement for the services inside. Initially, the bank had four drive-in teller windows, catering, quite literally, to the customer on wheels.
Structural T-shaped columns provide support for a circular roof and a remarkably clear view. Inside, the bank features an open floor plan with approachable teller stations on one side and a casual arrangement of office furniture on the other. An elegant spiral staircase leads to a mezzanine level for private transactions and a basement level for employee breaks. Doors lead from the mezzanine to an additional outdoor break area.
Rejecting earlier and more traditional styles of bank architecture, the Bank Building and Equipment Corporation of America thoroughly embraced a modern and progressive approach to bank design. There are only a few BBECA-designed banks in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bank of the West in Sunnyvale stands as a local treasure and may be one-of-a-kind.
Original building permit, on file with the City of Sunnyvale
Defining Downtown at Mid-Century: The Architecture of the Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America
â€œBanking on the Future - Modernism and the Local Bank,â€ Carol J. Dyson and Anthony Rubano, Excerpt from Preserving the Recent Past 2, Historic Preservation Education Foundation, 2000
Photo #1: View of bank from street, 2008 (Heather David)
Photo #2: Building detail, 2008 (Heather David)