ING Bank Headquarters, Amsterdam

Meyer & Van Schooten Architecten designed the ING Group offices in Amsterdam, Netherlands, completed in 2002. An institution that avoids the word "bank" in its name is obviously trying to get away from the negative stigma of financial big-shots, and this symbol for the company is no different. The futuristic, modern form is far removed from their conservative logo of a lion crest.

The raised 12m stilts follow the Whale Apartments sensibility as a great ship wading toward the water. The building begins at the vertical height of the nearby freeway. The tip tilts down as the tall buildings in the area transition toward the shore. The metal and glass skin wraps completely around the roof and underside to make a self-contained object.

A double-skinned glazing suggests transparency, although inside exterior wall has ordinary windows. It preaches sustainability in design. Natural air rises from the underside through the middle. But is it really all that environmentally friendly considering the material and labor? Is it really wise to try to transform an unfriendly image into something that stands out and appears to have relationship with the city's architecture as a whole? Perhaps this building represents the folly of big corporations of recent years, more than anything.

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