Balancing Openness and Transparency with Security
The Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank is a mixed-use project on a historically sensitive site on Buffalo Bayou. The building includes three disparate functions: Bank offices, publicly accessible conference facilities, research library and visitors’ center, and secure cash and check processing and vault facilities. The Bank challenged MGA&D to create a building that would communicate both the Federal Reserve’s strength and security and its openness as a democratic institution. We expressed the functional and symbolic principles in the plan, massing and facades, and used materials and details to relate the architecture to the adjacent residential and industrial context.
A Superior Workplace for Bank Employees and Operations
The design of the offices and the operational environment emphasizes efficiency and team-building. The office interiors are filled with natural light and employees have access to generous outdoor terraces, providing a satisfying workplace that emphasizes wellness. In contrast, 60% of the activities in the bank processing areas involve sophisticated industrial materials handling, including the use of automatic guide vehicles.
Integrating Art and Architecture
MGA&D has always believed in architecture’s capacity to tell stories and often uses the public art program to convey institutional values. Where the art program might be representational, associating it directly with the building design creates a powerful and integrated message. At the Federal Reserve Bank, the artist Kent Ullberg was commissioned to create a large sculpture of an eagle, called The Guardian, which we placed on a specially designed pedestal marking the entrance to the building.