Do the buildings of financial companies and administrations have specific characteristics? What messages do they convey to those who look at them, visit them or work in them? These are the issues addressed by the European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH) in a richly illustrated issue of its bulletin.

As Carmen Hofmann points out in the editorial, "corporate architecture is corporate identity". Bank buildings are one of many ways of illustrating the relationships of human societies to money.

Bank buildings have long had, and often still have, a massive, prestigious appearance. Architecture is responsible for conveying to customers, competitors, public authorities and employees, an impression of stability, solidity, seriousness, power and even opulence.

Financial architecture, at the crossroad between splendour and sobriety, tradition and modernity

This objective does not exclude variations according to the location, with in particular the desire to take into account the national identity of each country. And variations over time: the financial architecture thus oscillates between splendor and sobriety, tradition and modernity. From the 1960s, the emphasis has been on less ostentatious, more functional buildings. Nowadays, there is also a tendency to bring to the fore new technologies and corporate social and environmental responsibility, including the company’s integration in the local community.

The three lives of the Hôtel Gaillard

The Hôtel Gaillard in Paris is one of the examples presented in this bulletin by a contribution from two members of the Citéco team, Régine Casassa and Philippe Bonzom. Built by a private banker in 1882 and turned into a bank branch by the Banque de France in 1923, this historic monument will begin its third life as a place open to the public and dedicated to economic education.

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Published on 09 February 2017. Updated on 10 October 2022