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Bank America Services (Best Corporation Headquarters)

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Best Corporation Headquarters
1981, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer. c. 1989, Marcellus Wright, Cox and Smith. 1400 E. Parham Rd. (I-95 intersection with Parham Rd., east of I-95)
  • Bank America Services (Best Corporation Headquarters)

Best Corporation began in 1957, evolving from a family mail-order merchandising business. The company, run by Sydney and Frances Lewis, major patrons of the arts, commissioned several highly unusual showroom facades from James Wines and Robert Venturi. In 1981, with 100 showrooms and annual sales of more than $1 billion, the company moved its corporate headquarters from Ashland, in Hanover County, to this new building, designed in a postmodern style unexpected in a corporate headquarters. The building won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for architectural excellence.

The primary facade is an aquamarine wall that sweeps in a broad curve across a site visible from Parham Road. It is composed of glass block with cut-stone molded trim lines. The glass block is a legacy of Art Deco and Moderne architectural detailing of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, while the cut stone is perhaps a reference to the classical detailing often employed for federal government and bank buildings. A pool fronts the facade like a moat, and for artistic purposes, it reflects a wavering light across the glass brick. The entrance is formally introduced by two large sculptures of stone eagles topped by lanterns rescued from the demolition of New York City's old East Side Airlines Building (1939–1940), which stood opposite Grand Central Terminal. At their original site, the eagles perched on the roof of the terminal, several stories above a busy city street. Now these massive Moderne objects direct pedestrian circulation into the main entry. The addition, designed by Marcellus Wright, Cox and Smith, contrasts sharply with the original building in a fitting postmodern manner. The Best Company ceased operations in 1997, and other tenants now occupy the building.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Bank America Services (Best Corporation Headquarters)", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-RI386.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 298-299.

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