Technical Integration Highlights


Circulation space also serves requirements for public space.

Garage roof terraces separate the public plaza from circulation routes of the bank staff.

^ Removable wood slat ceilings are suspended below ductwork and services.


Rainwater filtration and daylighting systems are treat­ed as objects of art.

Interior landscaping, terrace gardens, and roofscapes break down the distinctions between inside and out. The rich arrangement of space tends to encourage people to use stairs rather than elevators.

Exposed raked-angle columns in the banking hall express the horizontal thrust of the angled tower walls and enhance the organic expression of space.


Small-area floor plates ensure that no one is more than 24 ft from an operable window and the daylight and natural ventilation it affords.

The atriums serve multiple functions as public spaces, vertical circulation cores, and providers of a variety of environmental services: daylight, wind tower, vertical duct shaft, water filter, and so forth. Interior plants and waterscaping control humidity and cleanse indoor air.

Waterscape flow-forms cleanse rainwater and pro­duce white-noise background sounds.

Prefabricated structural concrete panels provide ther­mal storage for winter heat and night-flush ventila­tion cooling in summer.

• The total energy system uses site energy effectively by sharing waste heat among all its processes of heating, cooling, and servicing.

• The sloping exterior wall configuration aids in deflecting noise and winter winds.


In 1980, Malcolm Wells published a collection of thoughts titled Notes from the Energy Underground. Presenting a number of perspectives about energy and environment, the book has a particular essay repeating, “Why, why, why?” Why do we have to leave home to have a vacation? Why do we have to go to museums to experience art? Why do we have to go to a park to commune with nature? The list goes on, but the underlying suggestion is that we too often go about life separated from the things we hold most dear and unintentionally tolerate a daily routine that is alienated from beauty, always dividing the sacred from the profane. To Malcolm Wells, this is not the natural condi­tion. He gives us questions to ponder.

Norman Foster had expressed the spirit of this delib­eration through a dramatic reversal of conventional office building features and finishes in his Willis Faber Dumas headquarters (1973; see case study # 7). By focusing atten­tion on workspace rather than on high-profile public and executive features, Foster chartered new priorities for daily life in the office world. In 1979, Ton Alberts and Max Van Huut continued the assertion with their headquarters for the NMB Bank (now ING Bank).

In 1989, three years after moving in, the bank com­missioned a worker satisfaction survey and compared it with a similar study conducted thirteen years earlier in NMB’s previous headquarters. The findings showed a dramatic increase in satisfaction, both with the working environment and with NMB as an employer. People pre­ferred their new open office spaces to the old partitioned ones. Eighty percent of them expressed pride in the building, and 70 percent mentioned the qualities of the meandering public corridor. Seven percent claimed they used only stairs, and 20 percent said they used only ele­vators.

The profits of these successes clearly outweigh the costs and the risks involved. The green technologies at NMB represent a 2 percent increase in total project cost. In 1995 dollars, that was about $900 thousand. The energy savings alone were determined to pay back more than $2.4 million per year.

Much could be said about the multidisciplinary team members who integrated their specialties. The benefits realized by NMB were, however, clearly the result of the architect’s intentions, rather than despite them. There was a particularly fortunate correspondence between Alberts’s organic inclinations toward design and the principles employed by the building’s physics consultants.

Updated: 12th October 2014 — 12:49 pm