National Commercial Bank HQ
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Architect Gordon Bunshaft/ SOM
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Location Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Date 1981 to 1983   timeline
Building Type skyscraper, commercial office tower, bank headquarters
Climate desert
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes Triangular plan, two square cut-outs in facade.




Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing


Discussion National Commercial Bank HQ Commentary

"...In the center, three columns allowed openings and offices to be rotated to any side. The dramatic 100-foot-wide faŤade openings were designed to provide daylight without direct sunshine. Light filters into the three courtyards through these openings, reaching the inhabited spaces only indirectly. The shaded cavity of the building reduces air temperatures slightly before cooling is completed by air-conditioning machinery. Above the level of the first office floor, warm air is drawn up the building's small triangular core and vented in the center of the roof. The office areas are protected from the sun's glare by gray glazing, and the glass-walled executive offices on the top floor are shielded by a pierced wall covering a 10-foot recess behind the building's outer surface; these recessed windows are akin to the shuttered of screened balconies of traditional Saudi architecture. A computerized building management system adjusts the climate-control machinery as external thermal conditions change."

— from Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. p268-271, 273.

The Creator's Words

"In general, it was a solution that was fundamental rather than applied. It is not necessarily cheap, because these three gardens are 100 feet wide and 100 feet high. They have a building on top of them spanning 100 feet, which is not exactly an inexpensive thing to do. But the owner wanted a great building, the best we could do."

— Gordon Bunshaft. from Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. p271.

Sources on National Commercial Bank HQ

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48. exterior overview photo, p53.

Carol Herselle Krinsky. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. New York: The Architectural History Foundation, 1988. ISBN 0-262-11130-6. NA737.B84K75 1988. discussion p268-271, 273.

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. NA680.S517. exterior, interior photos, p377. — Available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about National Commercial Bank HQ


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