HOK, Inc., London
The Central Bank of Kuwait Headquarters Building has a layered and complex program of spaces. The building reflects this composite nature. Public volumes are gathered in the base, while the auditorium cantilevers above these spaces, enjoying a panoramic view of the coast. Offices of the bank are placed above in the tower. At the apex are the boardroom and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) conference room. The design of the tower’s interiors accounts for this complexity, while maintaining a sense of continuity with the dominant form and finishes of the exterior.
Visitors enter the building through an expansive lobby. The wall opposite the reception desk and adjacent to the escalators features a row of palm trees and full-height, backlit, onyx-pleated panels, which extend across half the ceiling. The second half of the lobby ceiling is smooth, echoing the double-sided nature of the tower exterior, which is largely opaque on one side and glassy on the other. Just as the building’s overall form is a network of embedded and truncated triangles, so too is its internal topography. This extends to the angling of the setback balconies along the escalator, and the sculpting of the soffits over the concourse waiting area, as well as the backlit wall and ceiling panels. Visitors sense the continuity on the fifth floor as they pass through angled doors into the 300-seat auditorium, whose acoustical baffles and marble panels resemble unfolded elevations of the tower itself.