Bank of America, Beverly Hills
Stand at the base of the former Glendale Federal Savings and look up. Light streams through the rainbow patterned glass of a dalle da verre cornice cantilevered nine-and-a-half feet from the top of the ten-story building.
Dalle de verre (French for “slab of glass”) is produced by laying out thick chunks of rough-edged glass and pouring the concrete around them until it is flush with the glass. The technique was developed in Europe in the 1950s and often used for window panes in church buildings.
At the Glendale Federal Savings building, constructed in 1968, architects Robert Langdon and Ernest Wilson (Langdon & Wilson) designed fifty-two rainbow-patterned dalle da verre panels using eighteen different colors of one-inch thick glass.
The canopy adds a colorful, bright, and exciting crown to the high-rise office building with its glass panels set back between near-white exterior columns.
The colorful effect of the cornice is almost invisible as one drives past the building, making it a special experience reserved for patrons entering on the ground floor where Glendale Federal Savings had its office.
This was the first high-rise building on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
As part of a new zoning plan permitting taller buildings, Beverly Hills required the owners of high rises to set aside small park spaces as part of a green-belt plan. Glendale Federal Savings created Reeves Park to the southeast, which is one of a few parks created north and south of Wilshire that remain from this zoning requirement. Underneath the park is a three-tiered parking structure for the building’s tenants.
Langdon and Wilson designed over twenty-five high-rise office buildings on Wilshire Boulevard, but arguably none is as striking, playful, and colorful as the Glendale Federal Savings building.