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500 East Main Street

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1966–1970, Vlastimil Koubek. 500 E. Main St.

The influence of German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is readily apparent in this International Style bank building designed by a Washington-based architect. Rising eighteen stories without setbacks, the building's dark exterior is sheathed in anodized aluminum and tinted glass with I-beam mullions in the manner of Mies's Seagram Building (1956–1958) in New York City. The ground-level lobby is recessed behind the outermost piers and enclosed in glass. An unusual construction feature of the building is its Franki foundation, a Belgian technique for sinking concrete footings. Hollow metal tubes are hammered into the ground, and the bottom of each tube is filled with concrete to create a footing. A steel shell is inserted above the footing and filled with more concrete to form a pile, and the tube is then removed. About six footings per day were sunk in a process that is quieter than conventional pile driving.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "500 East Main Street", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 400-401.

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