Panorama Bank | Los Angeles Conservancy
Panorama Bank
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Panorama Bank

With its elongated concrete dome structure and expanses of glass walls, the Panorama Bank building resembles nothing so much as an alien spacecraft touched down in the middle of Panorama City's shopping district. Currently containing a furniture store, the Bank was designed by architect W. A. Sarmiento in an Organic Modern style to house Great Western Savings. It was completed in 1957 to provide banking services to the Kaiser Community Homes' postwar Panorama City development. At that time, Sarmiento was the head designer for pioneering design-build firm, Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America; the firm specialized in Modern bank designs and set major trends in bank design and construction.

Sarmiento's design for the Panorama Bank reflects his belief that art and architecture should be intertwined, looking as much like a sculpture as a building. Two gently arching beams criss-cross the top of the dome-shaped building and return to anchor it to earth with low piers of scored concrete. Narrow vertical elements divide the large windows of one façade into columns of glass, while the other main façade (on Van Nuys Boulevard) is fully glazed. An amazing, stainless steel staircase curves through the building's interior, with floating steps cantilevered from a single main beam. This is a building that looks to the future, with tongue firmly in cheek. As humorist Charles Phoenix put it, "what defines its true greatness is the fact that it still looks futuristic more than fifty years after it was created."

Home Federal Savings/Pacific Mercantile Bank Building
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Home Federal Savings/Pacific Mercantile Bank Building

A striking tower of stacked white arches with trailing greenery representing an important step in Edward Durell Stone's re-visioning of historical Classical, Moorish, and Indo-Islamic styles through a Modern lens.
West Los Angeles Civic Center
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

West Los Angeles Civic Center

Built between 1957 and 1965, the civic center reflects the postwar growth of municipal services and the general optimism of the period, exemplified by its eye-catching Mid-Century Modern design.