Bank of America Center, 01 February 2011


This building is one of the more easily recognizable landmarks on the Norfolk skyline, though my most vivid recollections about the building have less to do with its aesthetics, and more to do with its rather convoluted history.


Photo Information:

Location: Norfolk, Virginia
Camera: Nikon D80
Lens: Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX
ISO Equivalency: 100
Color Setting: Vivid (Black & White conversion in post-processing)

Building Information:

Architect: Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill / Williams, Tazewell & Associates
Date Completed: 1968
Style: Modernist

Based on a couple different sources, [1][2] I’ve been able to determine that the building was originally commissioned by the Virginia National Bank as their Norfolk headquarters, and was completed in 1968. By the time I was aware of the building and its primary tenant, VNB had merged with First & Merchants Bank to become Sovran Bank; the sign at the top of the tower was changed to show the Sovran’s company logo, which is how I originally remember the building. Sovran merged with Citizens & Southern National Bank to become C & S / Sovran Corp, though this only lasted a year before they merged with North Carolina National Bank to become NationsBank; the sign at the top of the building didn’t change to reflect the C & S / Sovran name change, IIRC, but it did change to NationsBank soon after that merger was completed. Of course, you can see that in its current form, the building is owned by Bank of America, after NationsBank merged with BankAmerica for form Bank of America. It’ll likely stay that way for the immediate future, seeing as how Bank of America managed to survive the current economic “downturn,” rather than get swallowed up by a competitor.

Anyways, I thought that was a rather amusing bit of corporate merger history. I was initially a little surprised to learn that S.O.M. was involved with the project, but then again, I suppose I shouldn’t be; S.O.M. of course, is a juggernaut in the Chicago architectural community, and they have projects around the globe. As for the design itself, it is a late Modernist design, in this case, executed in pre-cast concrete with a glass curtainwall behind. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but you can just barely see the joints where the pre-cast pieces are attached to one another; each one is a “T” shape, with thinner fins to form what appear to be sun screens for the glazing beyond.



[1]: Building information from available here.

[2]: History of Sovan Bank available here (Wikipedia article) Рyou can follow the thread of mergers and acquisitions up through the present as Bank of America starting from this article.


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