The window of the desires | Michael Ángel Díaz Camacho

SOM, Bank in NY, 1951-54

There exists in the Fifth Avenue of New York a window on which the people crowd from the street. In the night and day, sosegadamente, we imagine almost silently. A window seductora and hypnotic as a putting of the Sun or a rain of stars. Nobody might imagine that actually, which is admired by the own emotion of the corsair before The Island of the Exchequer, is at all more and anything less than the powerful strong box of the bank for the Manufacturers Trust Company.

Designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Charles Evan Hughes, both members of the North American signature Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the bank opens his doors in 1954 in the crossing between the Fifth Avenue and the street 43. And it opens them precisely across the latter, reserving the valuable forehead of the Avenue as a panoramic viewing-point towards the interior of the building1. The programmatical smart strategy for the exhibition of the strong box of the entity, usually reserved in the bank projects to the armored, recondite bunker protected from the subsoil. The retranqueo of the principal top plant generates a space to double visible height from the exterior, a luck of immodest and monumental urn for the long curtain and curtain of a scene on which there takes place the presentation of a renewed and transparent banking, a sharp invitation of the optimistic and Herculean system of the most powerful country of the world in the 50.

Projecting is to programme2. The sense of the word is interested here in programming as organization of actions and ideas, the project as strategy of appropriation of the space opposite to his simple distribution, word prohibited for us3. The bank for the Manufacturers Trust Company supposes the creation of a new typology from the investment of the program, at the time that it solves with supreme elegance the relation between the street and the financial institution, now devaluated before the showy corporate colors, the winking of the cash dispensers and the offers of warehouses, insurances or you count list. The window of Bunshaft and Hughes appears as a horizon, a promise, one of these sources into which just sliding a currency could reach at least one of our more recondite aspirations. The window of the desires.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. Doctor Architect

Madrid. may 2014


1 The work has been reformed not without polemic and at present Joe Fresh constitutes the flag store of the Canadian chain of fashionable shops. The strong box has been dismantled and the interior has been completely reformed, presenting new accesses (oh!) from the Fifth Avenue.

2 To programme: to design and to arrange the necessary actions to realize a project. Definition comes second of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language, RAE.

3 The architecture cannot be distributed. We will insist on this idea on this one and other writings, to see also: “Acción y borrado”, “Otros parques”, “El límite de la arquitectura” o “La gestión de lo impredecible”.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura,  perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).

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