Financial Center Building, Oakland, California (photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Entry on 14th Street

Lobby Elevators

The Financial Center Building is a 15-story Art Deco building located at 401-415 Fourteenth Street, Oakland, California.  The building was designed by the architectural firm of Reed and Corlett, whose partners were Walter Reed and William Corlett. Construction of the building was completed in 1929 at a cost of $1.5 million.

The building has elements of both Gothic Revival and Art Deco. It is covered in sand-blasted terra cotta and has beautiful light fixtures in the lobby (pictures please!). Notable are the floral decorative motifs and stylized eagles (a financial symbol) in the spandrels. Above the main entrance is an old oak tree, flanked by a pair of eagles, and ram heads underneath.

On pg. 33 of a Oakland by Annalee Allen, you can see a historic photo of the building from a perspective that is no longer possible (because other buildings are in the place where the photo was taken).

On November 13, 1984 the Financial Center Building was designated an Oakland Landmark, under Zoning Case #LM 84-292.

Architectural History

This is an Art Deco office building which is fifteen stories with a penthouse and mezzanine, on a corner lot.  It has a two story base, a transitional third story, a nine story shaft, and a three story capital.  The capital is slightly set back, and the decorated penthouse more so.  Ornamentation is stylized in the Art Deco manner, with Churrigueresque and Mayan influence.  Articulation is strongly vertical, with heavy full height piers separating narrow recessed bays of paired upper floor windows.  The structure is steel frame with reinforced concrete floors and brick curtain walls, clad in variegated brown pressed brick with terra cotta base and trim.  The terra cotta has been sandblasted on the bottom three floors.  Ornament includes "FCB" monograms, stylized terra cotta eagles at the second floor, and an elaborate outer vestibule and marble walled interior lobby.  Store windows are set in elaborate bronze architraves and have green veined black marble splash panels.

The Financial Center Building was designed by the prominent Oakland firm of Reed & Corlett for a partnership including Oakland Tribune owner Joseph Knowland.  Its name and location were carefully chosen to appeal to firms having a financial slant to their business.  It is an outstanding and unique combination of the brown brick and terra cotta characteristic of the district's earlier Beaux Arts office buildings and the stylized ornament and ziggurat form of Art Deco skyscrapers.

This historic building is #45 on the list of District Contributors for the Downtown Oakland Historic District Registration Form.


405 - 14th Street, Oakland, California

Financial Center Building, Oakland, California (photo by greenkozi)

Links and References