At the time of its construction in 1928, the Royal Bank of Canada's new headquarters at 360 St. James Street was the tallest building in the British Empire.
On the main floor, one could find what was arguably one of the most impressive and imposing bank branches in Canada.
The architectural design of 360 St. James symbolized the strength, stability and permanence of Canadian banking. (Source: rbc.com website.)
The main hall, with its arched windows, 50 foot vaulted ceilings, marble, bronze everywhere, chandeliers and intricate plaster work were then, and still are a stunning sight to behold. It remained a fully operational bank branch until the Bank moved out in 2010.
This grand space is now occupied by a new economy startup called Crew. They offer services for freelancers and other startups, including a place for entrepreneurs to work and get a coffee. Yes, one of the grandest bank branches in the country is now a very swank café and crash pad for designers and tech workers.
I don't know what the Royal Bank's executives from 90 years ago would have thought about a bunch of Macbook-toting, neckbearded hipsters working on the Next Big Thing while sipping lattés in their grand vaulted main branch. I pretty sure they wouldn't have liked it. Something tells me they wouldn't have complained about the business these startups are generating.
Times certainly change.