The Secret Building Inside the Bank of America Center Has Been Unearthed

The brick Western Union building shown in black and white on the corner of Louisiana and Capitol streets vanished from the downtown landscape in 1983 — although it didn’t go anywhere. Because the longtime regional switching center was too expensive to move, architect Philip Johnson simply designed his much larger landmark — then-called RepublicBank Center Center — around it, sealing the telecom structure off from public view. Inside the skyscraper’s lobby, the dead building takes up nearly a quarter of the floor space, with its west corner wedged into the Bank of America Center’s own, catty-corner to Jones Hall.

Last year, renovations were announced to add a new restaurant and cafe in the doorless and windowless portion of the Bank of America Center’s ground floor where the building is entombed. Crews began stripping away portions of the office building’s exterior earlier this year in order to make room for new openings to access the eateries. They’ve now busted all the way through the red granite, revealing the decades-older facade that lies behind it.

It’s still mostly obscured by the scaffolding that looms over the Capitol St. sidewalk :

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The next step is cracking open the Western Union building itself in order to make room for these tall, Jones-Plaza-facing windows:

They’ll open up the space to be shared by the cafe:

And adjacent restaurant:

With a front door (on the left) leading through the Western Union brick . . .

and out onto Louisiana.

Photos: C Money (renovations); Telegraph News (Western Union). Renderings: Sydness Architects

Seeing the Light

4 Comment

  • Smart thing to do at this point would be to incorporate the brick surfaces and terrazzo floors, etc., of the old building into the restaurant somehow. That’s what the kids are into these days – authenticity. You don’t find a building inside a building very often.

  • If this bldg is “returned” to it’s corner, it will be awesome!

  • This is a fascinating story. Well done Swamplot!
    With ya Movocelot.

  • “yo dawg, I heard you like buildings, so I put a building inside your building” :-)