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Wachovia  Bank and Trust Building, 1958

 

129 West Trade Street

 

One of the most prominent examples of Modernism in downtown Charlotte is the Wachovia  Bank and Trust Building, located at 129 West Trade Street. Designed by A.G. Odell and completed in 1958, the bank building is significant as the oldest modernist high-rise in the city with a good degree of integrity, and as an example of A.G. Odell’s early work. 

 

The building faces north at the corner of West Trade and Church Streets.  The lot slopes to the south.  When it was built, the building dominated West Trade Street, towering over neighboring low-rise commercial buildings.  Today, high rises have sprung up to the west, east, and north of the building, yet the building remains generally un-obscured.  The building’s first floor is comprised of a glass lobby entrance and glass and black marble storefronts that appear to have been re-worked over the years.   

 

This October 1957 photograph of A. G. Odell, Jr. shows the Wachovia Building under construction in the background
Above the ground floor, a blank concrete panel clad second-story is cantilevered over the ground floor, providing shelter for the ground floor entrances.  Originally the second story was  unadorned, the massive concrete panel providing a accenting belt course for the base of the building.  The concrete panels extend upwards,  forming a guardrail wall for a terrace on the third floor.  A simple metal handrail tops the low wall.  Sometime after 1998, several round windows were cut into second story's blank concrete panels and T-shaped decorative brackets were added to the panels.  These decorative elements and the re-worked store fronts appear to be the only significant changes made to the exterior of the building. 

The third floor is clad completely in windows on the front and west elevations, the most public sides of the building.  The upper stories cantilever over the third story on the facade and are flush with the glass walls on the west elevation.  The narrow terrace extends along the west elevation, across the facade, and becomes a wide open area in front of the buildings concrete paneled elevator tower that extends from the building's east elevation and is set back from the facade.

The building's upper thirteen stories are six bays wide and twenty bays deep, and are identical in design and features.  Undivided fixed sash are separated by convex angular concrete panels.  The same panels run in bands above and below the windows, separated by flat panels.  The bands are offset producing a rhythmic, textured surface.  The building is topped by tall open bays, accenting the fenestration and disguising the mechanical apparati on the roof.

The rear elevation is covered with the same angled concrete panels found on the facade and west elevations.  However, fenestration is limited to a single opening on each floor offset from the center.  The generally blank back wall encloses an elevator shaft and stairs.

The elevator tower, located on the east elevation, is clad in large, flat concrete panels.  On the front elevation of the elevator tower  the concrete panels are set at a concave angle. 

 

This 1966 photograph shows the  Wachovia Bank and Trust Company Building near the center and top of the picture.