As U.S. investment banks prepare for a hard or "bad-tempered" Brexit, they're putting their money where their mouths are and taking out leases on new offices in European cities. Accordingly, Goldman Sachs has leased the eight top floors of Frankfurt's new Marienturm skyscraper, for occupation once it's completed in 2019. And Bank of America has leased 9,300 metres squared at an old postal and telegraph headquarters in Paris's eighth arrondissement.
Therein, the two banks are both expected to house front office staff including salespeople and traders. Goldman Sachs will have up to 800 people at the Marienturm. Bank of America will have up to 1,000 at "La Poste."
Photographs of the two new offices are available online. We would suggest that Bank of America's Parisian option looks far more stylish. This may be the fault of the British: they bombed Frankfurt's ancient medieval city into nothing during the Second World War. While BofA's new Paris office is therefore a refurbished building from the late 1800s, Goldman's new Frankfurt office building looks more reminiscent of 2007 Dubai.
1. Goldman Sachs' new Frankfurt office is very "golden"
The photograph below is off the entrance hall at the Marienturm. It has a whiff of Harrods circa 1989, or Riyadh sometime last week.
2. Bank of America's new Paris office is very "clean"
OK, Bank of America's new Paris office has some gold, but there's none of the dangling golden draperies of the new GS office in Frankfurt and it's all pretty clean. In the mock-up below, the new BAML atrium looks more like a high end clinical facility than an Arabian palace.
3. Goldman Sachs' new Frankfurt office is in a big shiny tower
You'll like Goldman's new EU headquarters if you like shiny and tall. You won't if you want something a little more "culturally resonant."
4. Bank of America's new Paris office is in an art deco building dating back to the late 1800s
Bank of America's new building started out as a telegraph, telephone and postal exchange over 120 years ago. It's all very Haussmann but has been renovated in shiny white inside (see above).
5. The communal spaces at Goldman's Frankfurt office look like one of Saddam Hussein's palaces
The golden draperies are everywhere in the Marienturm. Also: ferns.
6. And the (envisaged) offices at Goldman in Frankfurt look like something from British Home Stores (BHS) in 1984
Companies in the Marienturm are free to adapt their offices spaces as they wish. The office below is therefore just a proposal and may not be taken up by Goldman Sachs. Still, it's always a possibility. Whilst this look is very contemporary and the wood is undoubtedly solid, it's also a throwback to the heady days of Thatcherism and veneered furniture.
7. Bank of America's Paris office has a bushy atrium
There are trees outside the Marienturm, but La Poste has a garden area inside too. Neither building compares to Apple's new circular campus filled with trees but BofA's does seem the "closer to nature" of the two.
8. Roof gardens filled with lavender, shrubbery and sofas....
In total, La Poste has 800 square metres of terraces and gardens, some of which are on the roof and (according to the mock-up below) are planted with lavender.
9. And offices split into mezzanine levels with a lot of natural light
And while the office mock-ups at the Marienturm look like a 1980s furniture showroom (see six), the offices at La Poste are more reminiscent of the standard corporate workplace. The only problem is that this is a little boring.
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Photo credit: Old Paris by Anabelle Bernard Fournier is licensed under CC BY 2.0.