Chase Bank, Manhattan Beach | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Dean Cheng

Chase Bank, Manhattan Beach

Opened as the South Bay office of Culver Federal Savings and Loan Association, this dramatic bank building at the corner of Sepulveda and Artesia Boulevards in Manhattan Beach boasts a design inspired by its seaside community location.

The building features a lens-shaped plan and is capped by a white roof that resembles a giant clam shell.  The arc-shaped facades reflect the influence of the ocean, with expansive bronze-tinted glass windows suggesting the ocean sands and the sculptural concrete piers symbolizing ocean whitecaps.

The design of this unique structure, by architect Chancy Miles Lott, is an equally unique blend of both Expressionism and New Formalism—two distinct architectural styles popularized during the 1960s.

The building is highly sculptural in its overall form and detailing—a hallmark of Expressionism—and features a sweeping, curved roof form and facades and sculptural elements in the form of flared concrete piers and the subtly scalloped underside of the roofline.

Yet the building also bears the unmistakable influence of New Formalism.  Set on a raised base and featuring a symmetrical form, projecting roofline and columnar supports, the bank is a version of the classically inspired glass-walled pavilion.

The Culver Federal Savings building is one of Manhattan Beach’s gems of modern architecture and is highly representative of the transformative shift in postwar-era bank design.  As financial institutions nationwide analyzed the need for progressive banking methods following World War II, architects responded by radically reinventing the bank’s form.  Culver Federal Savings typified these national postwar banking trends through its modern architectural design and transparency.


Cathay Bank
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Cathay Bank

Designed by the first Chinese American architect to join the AIA in Southern California, Cathay Bank merges New Formalism with traditional Chinese decorative elements.
Marina del Rey
Photo by ravitch on Flickr

Marina del Rey

Architect Victor Gruen was hired to create the master plan for Marina del Ray, a 780-acre area which includes one of the largest manmade small craft harbors in the world.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Theme Building, LAX

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