Address: 701 E. Byrd Street
Perhaps the most iconic building of Richmond’s skyline is the Federal Reserve Bank Tower. The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, 1 of 12 branches in the US, commissioned the building to be designed by Minoru Yamasaki in 1975.
The building features a largely aluminum curtain facade punctured by vertically oriented slits and an articulated corner. The design was clearly taking cues from Yamasaki’s most famous work, New York’s World Trade Center. Towers 1 and 2 were completed just 4 and 5 years earlier respectively. Unlike the Twin Towers, the structures corners contain wide window bays and angled piers at its base. The windows are bound by simple faces of aluminum rather than textured strips which create the formalist pointed arches of WTC. The striking simplicity in form and materiality give the structure a monumental presence in the city.
The building was originally to be sited where the Jefferson Hotel now stands but the site was later moved close to the river, directly across the canal from Brown’s Island Park. The project was underway at the same time as Richmond’s Downtown Expressway which slices through the southern part of urban Richmond and separates much of it from the riverfront. The Federal Reserve was unwilling to be separated in this way and so was born the idea for Kanawha Plaza, a park built over the highway to connect the bank with the center of the city.