News / 11.10.16

Throwback Thursday – Sanwa Bank

Embraced a Japanese principle of ‘harmony among three’ by designing a space that expressed growth, prosperity & light

This week's Epstein Throwback Thursday takes us back to January, 1975 for the opening of the Chicago offices of the Japanese-based Sanwa Bank. For this project Epstein's interiors group and MEP/FP engineers took an existing 10,000 square foot space located within the William Le Baron Jenney designed New York Life office building at 39. S. LaSalle Street, and in a little over four months, renovated the space into a modern banking facility. In addition to our lead design role, Epstein's interior designers were also tasked with providing space planning, programming, and FF&E services for this 2nd floor space with a first floor entryway.

The design concept for this project took cues from Sanwa's logo – which at the time was a green and gold trefoil (an ornamental design of three rounded lobes like a clover leaf). Therefore, Epstein's designers included touches of green and gold throughout the space as well as embraced a Japanese principle of 'harmony among three' by designing a space that expressed growth, prosperity and light.

Sanwa's office space included a computer room and vault that was separated from the general offices areas through the inclusion of a diagonal smoked glass wall. There was also a teller counter that was constructed of white laminate, marble and glass. Conference rooms and executive offices were wrapped in creamy-white vinyl material with a fine, sandy texture. In addition, this space also featured a communications center for international banking, mail room, storage room and employee lounge featuring a newfangled invention called a microwave oven!

Epstein's lighting designers and engineers also specified recessed light coffers that ran at a 45° angle which provided soft-lighting while pulling the eye away from the structural columns as well as locating the HVAC system above the ceiling tiles which created the illusion of disappearing pillars.

Lastly, this Epstein designed space also featured robust collection of art including works by Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Kipniss, and Paul Jenkins and in December of '75 our work was awarded a National Design Award for Interior Design from the Society of American Registered Architects.

If you are curious, Sanwa no longer exists having been swallowed up in a merger with two other large Japanese banks in 2002, and as for the building in which this office was located, it recently was redesigned as a high-end boutique hotel called The Gray.