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Sign of the Times: A Bank HQ Built for Total Transparency

The ANZ Centre in Melbourne puts a small town’s worth of financial professionals in a architectural fishbowl.

TARP, credit default swaps, collateralized debt: Since the economy tanked, these opaque acronyms and impenetrable instruments are all too symbolic of the financial industry’s mysteriousness. But in Australia, one of the world’s largest bank headquarters has taken an architectural stand for radical openness. At the Hassell-designed ANZ Centre in Melbourne, 6,500 financial workers do business in a gigantic vertical “urban campus.”

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[Wide, cantilevered balconies mean that the hum of the banks activities are always in plain sight]

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The ANZ Centre is built around the idea of a “common” that opens the bank to its surroundings with wide balconies and natural light, as well as publicly accessible walkways to cafes, art galleries, and the waterfront. Instead of locking its operations inside a forbidding fortress, ANZ wants its borders to feel permeable and inviting to the local community. You’ll notice that anyone, from above and below, can see what every one else is doing — the perfect symbol of a bank seeking a responsible, 21st century image.

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Of course no haute corporate HQ would be complete without a laundry list of eco-aware engineering features, and ANZ has them in spades: according to ArchDaily, the Centre’s “innovative energy, water and waste management initiatives” earned it a very favorable rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

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If that old saw about “sunlight being the best disinfectant” against corruption is true, ANZ’s clients should have nothing to worry about.

[Photos by Earl Carter; Read more at ArchDaily]

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About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets

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