During the first half of the 20th century banks became increasingly competitive, particularly in their claims about which had the most impressive and up to the minute banking chambers. For banks in particular, the building itself had become a sign of prestige and monumentalism, thinking which was only rejected in the 1960s as being stolid and inflexible.
The former Bank of New South Wales headquarters is an important landmark in defining Martin Place. with obvious well-mannered Beaux-Arts stylism, it reflects the wave of commercial confidence during the 1920s following World War I. Recently re-opened following an extensive refurbishment, the ground floor banking chambers retain their magnificent history, while now offering large customer waiting areas, private meeting spaces and up to date technology. The interior is notable for the range of marbles and use of scagliola (marble effect) and has been enhanced with the incorporation of Westpac's new brand elements. the building is steel framed, exhibiting the usual rusticated base, decorative balconies and cornices, and is clad with grey granite and sandstone. It complements the General Post Office, although the conception of design is different.
The stunning Westpac Bank also opened its security vault to the public, an absolutely fascinating area complete with massive security door. Naturally no photos were allowed of this area and with security guards everywhere I couldn't sneak any.