Back in 2004, when Bank of America was still flush with cash and had not yet absorbed the ailing financial firms that would attack its balance sheet like a cancer — leading the company to accept billions of dollars in government money, lay off huge portions of its workforce, and severely cripple the ego of CEO Ken Lewis — executives from the Charlotte, North Carolina–based bank swaggered up to New York and unabashedly put $1 billion toward the construction of a tower to house BofA’s New York trading operations. They envisioned a tall, thick, strong tower, one that on the inside would accommodate their scores of traders and would, on the outside, represent Bank of America to the world. Now, five years and many billions of dollars in losses later, the tower is complete. What the final price tag on the project is, we don’t know — the bank, for obvious reasons, is no longer disclosing such figures — but whatever the cost, Bloomberg architectural critic James S. Russell is not impressed. In a scathing review today, he denounces the tower as “gracelessly, earnestly green,” fat, and in possession of a small, spindly spire.
The 54-story result is among the most ungainly forms on the skyline, like a matron who swathes herself in thick layers of fabric in a vain attempt to slim her burgeoning silhouette. The tower climaxes with a spire as impressive as an auto antenna.
Brutal. If we were Ken Lewis, we’d be clutching our nuts and checking out our ass in a full-length mirror. And then Russell delivers the crushing blow:
[T]his glinting bundle of shards, nearing completion across from Bryant Park, could be considered a monument to bonus-coddled, overindulgent, corporate excess — if it weren’t so dumpy.
At least Bank of America got what it wanted. The thing sounds like it represents the company perfectly.