Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio Unveils Capital One Cafe in Santa Monica, Showcasing A New Concept in Banking

Customers enjoy Peet’s® coffee and banking at Capital One Café in Santa Monica

“This building was designed to fit elegantly into a busy downtown corner and provide visual and physical sustenance to those who pass through.” Gwynne Pugh, Principal, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio

The concept driving the new Capital One Café in downtown Santa Monica is the idea of creating ‘a third place’ within an architecturally dynamic building. This is a destination, outside of people’s homes and workplaces where they can meet socially, for business meetings, drink coffee and experience one-of-a-kind banking.

The sleek, modern building was designed by local firm Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio (GP-US) and houses both the bank and a café. The project represents Capital One’s new concept in banking, eschewing traditional tellers behind a counter in favor of a more communal space with mobile financial advisers available to assist bank clients and non-clients alike. As GP-US Principal Gwynne Pugh puts it, “This building was designed to fit elegantly into this busy downtown corner, and to provide visual and physical sustenance to those who pass through.” The Capital One website says, “We believe banking should fit your everyday life—It’s an inviting, comfortable place where you can get some banking done, enjoy tasty Peet’s® beverages and local snacks—or just hang out with some on-the-house Wi-Fi.”

This more community-driven concept is reinforced by the design, which blends in seamlessly with its surroundings. The low-rise, 8,400 SF two-story building echoes the character of a mid-century bank while bringing a more modern design aesthetic. The structure was designed so that the corner was opened up and made into an indoor-outdoor space that responded to this busy downtown corner. The indoor-outdoor qualities are enhanced by the folding doors that open up the inside to the outside. The forms consist of folded planes that wrap down, fold back, then along and up. These planes are all made of glazed brick and smooth trowel plaster. The interstitial space is held together by horizontal louvers. These louvers shade the south facing glass. The interior is kept cool by the thermal mass and the shading of…

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