Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is the country’s second-largest bank. With more than a half-million employees and an emerging international presence, ICBC sought to build a new headquarters that would serve as a nexus for its far-flung operations. It also aimed to create a civic presence befitting its location along Beijing’s main ceremonial boulevard, Chang-an Avenue.

SOM drew on Chinese cultural themes for the building’s design. Based on the axial, nine-square grid of Beijing’s ancient city plan, the building’s square perimeter orients the structure to the city and the street, while a central circular courtyard contains a contemplative garden. Narrow floor plates and operable windows maximize light, fresh air, and views.

Following principles of Chinese geomancy, the building’s main entry, which punctuates its massive granite base, faces south. With its post-and-beam curtain wall and sweeping upturned eaves, the exterior demonstrates the building’s grounding in Chinese architectural traditions.