Design: Such Nice Places to Keep Money

Churches, with their steeples, and banks, with their classic columns, used to be the most traditional stereotypes of public buildings. But these two conservative institutions have proved in recent times the most daringly experimental when it comes to architecture —partly because they are built not for efficiency but for the glory of, respectively, God and Mammon, and are not forced into egg-cratery by the economic demands of multitudinous offices in little space. Modern churches now come in all shapes, from fishes to flying saucers. But recently, new banks have begun to rival new churches in variety, elegance, and novelty.

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