Established in 1906, the Swiss National Bank is responsible for emitting currency and setting and maintaining Switzerland’s monetary policy. In addition to its head office in Bern, it maintains a series of offices in other major Swiss cities. The architects Rudolf Suter and Otto Burckhardt were tasked with designing the Basel branch, dubbed Laurenz-Bau, which opened in 1926 on St. Alban-Graben.
At the time, the national bank was also providing customer-facing services such as money exchange and safe deposit box rental. As such, an elegant wood-panelled service counter hall was to be found behind the austere stone facade. The hall had a central area for customers surrounded on three sides by a low marble-clad service counter, behind which were desks for staff. Lighting came from two rows of windows and a large round skylight.
As its role evolved and the need for service counters disappeared, the national bank eventually replaced its Basel location with a smaller delegate office, and the building was taken over by the nearby Basel Museum of Fine Arts. The former counter hall was transformed to welcome the museum’s library, which it shares with the University of Basel’s Art History department, also located in the building. The transformation was led by Annette Gigon & Mike Guyer of Gigon/Guyer and was completed in 2007.
- Umbau Kunstmuseum Basel und Bibliothek Laurenzbau. Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer Architekten.
- Der Neubau der Schweiz. Nationalbank, Basel: erbaut von Suter & Burckhardt, Architekten in Basel. Schweizerische Bauzeitung. Vol. 93/94, January 5th, 1929
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!