Chase Bank, Gardena
The former Great Western Savings building on West Rosecrans Avenue in Gardena was the first of its kind—for Great Western Savings and Loan, anyway. Completed in 1961, the building was the prototype for all other buildings built as part of the bank’s 1960s expansion and relocation plan.
Great Western was justifiably proud of its new building, which boasted an all-concrete design and walls made entirely of glass. It was designed by Paffard Keatinge-Clay of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Keatinge-Clay had a wide-ranging architectural career, apprenticing with masters like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, and he completed designs in multiple cities for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The Great Western Savings building was his only completed Southern California work.
This building uses the form of a basic Miesian glass box, but expands and surrounds it with a massive concrete frame of eight columns supporting a giant flat slab of a roof. The columns are wide slabs, with their bases seeming to balance on small steel piers. Their widths divide the spaces in between while effortlessly lifting the roof. The design evokes some of the New Formalist pavilions of architect Edward Durell Stone, serving as a temple of commerce in the growing community of Gardena. The former Great Western Savings building was remodeled in 1975, but its original scale, feel and character remain intact.