A Town Square for the World
The headquarters of the World Bank in downtown Washington DC is a graceful composition that disguises its massive size with subtle texture transitions and balanced massing. At over 2 million square feet and accommodating 4300 employees, this is a huge building by any standard. However by burying 30% of it beneath street level and by breaking up the overall volume visually into a collection of buildings that fit the scale of those existing on the site, the architects were able to avoid making the headquarters appear monolithic or daunting. The varied but coherent whole can be seen as representative of the banks diverse international makeup.
It would seem important for this building not to be designed in the western classical architectural tradition. Though prevalent in Washington DC, a building of that style could carry associations too laden with memories of colonialism for such an international mission. KPF Associate’s modern design effectively presents an unladen image of international prominence while simultaneously respecting its urban neighbors with both color and scale.
The atrium space is truly awe-inspiring in both scale and attention to detail. Security is tight, but if you get the oportunity to visit the interior I highly suggest you do so.