Banque Bruxelles Lambert, Milan

  • The Milan branch of the Banque Bruxelle Lambert is housed in a nineteenth-century building. The renovation leaves the original ornament intact but rigorously tones it down to create a subdued background - a visual basso continuo. Rooms are treated as ready-made stages. Columns and pilasters - pure, minimalist volumes - are lacquered black and highly polished to emphasize their form and reflect the existing ornament. Functional, yet symbolic, they are the architectural elements in the bank's urban spaces. One simple, bold device - a curvilinear, free-flowing handrail in the entrance's grand staircase, wide, straight, black ribbons placed flat on the floor and tall slender, black floor lamps in the offices - works as a black cordoning line, defining the edges where new and old meet.

project information

location:   Milan, Italy
client:   Banque Bruxelles Lambert
cost:    $4,000,000
date:   1979
area:    30,000 sf