BanQ / Office dA

© John Horner
© John Horner

Architects: Office dA
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Project Design: Nader Tehrani, Monica Ponce de Leon
Principal in Charge: Nader Tehrani
Project Architect: Dan Gallagher
Project Coordinators: Catie Newell, Brandon Clifford
Project Team: Harry Lowd, Richard Lee, Lisa Huang, Remon Alberts, Janghwan Cheon, Jumanah Jamal, Aishah Al Sager
Contractor: Homeland Builders
Structural Consulting Engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.
MEP Consulting Engineer: Wozny/Barbar & Associates, Inc.
Lighting Consultant: Collaborative Lighting
Acoustical Consultant: Acentech
Kitchen Consultant: TriMark USA, Inc.
Building Code Consultant: Hal Cutler
Project Area: 446 sqm
Proyect Year: 2006-2008
Photographs: John Horner

floor plan
floor plan

Located in the old Penny Savings Bank, Banq is a restaurant located at the base of the old banking hall. Divided into two segments, the front area on Washington Street is programmed as a bar, while the larger hall behind serves as the dining area. The design of the space, however, is conceptualized around another division, on the z axis, between the ceiling and the ground. If the ground needs to remain flexible as a result of fluctuating activities of the restaurant space– two seaters, fours, and sixes, among a range of other organizations related to parties and other events– then, the ceiling contains fixed programs that are part of the building’s infrastructure– the structure, drainage, mechanical equipment, sprinkler system, lighting, and other the acoustic systems. To that end, we have developed a striated -slatted system that conceals the view of the mechanical, plumbing, and lighting systems on the longitudinal axis, while offering a virtual canopy under which to dine. The geometry of the slats conform to each equipment above, but are also radiused in order to smoothen the relationship between other adjoining equipment, creating a seamless landscape. The columns and the wine storage, in the middle of the hall, serve to uphold the fiction, and appear to be suspended from the ceiling. if the longitudinal axis emphasizes the seamless surface, then lateral views offer striated glimpses into the service space above, and demystify the illusion. To underline this strategy, certain areas of the ceiling “drip” and “slump”, acknowledging the location of to place exit signs, lighting features, and other details.

© John Horner
© John Horner
section 02

Below the ceiling, the functional aspects of a dining space are fabricated with warm woods and relaminated bamboo amplifying the striping affect already at play throughout the space. Striations of the ground, the furnishings, and the ceiling all conspire to create a total effect, embedding the diners into the grain of the restaurant.

© John Horner
© John Horner
exploded axo
exploded axo

Acknowledging the historical setting of the building, the ceiling hovers away from all interior walls and instead finds its support in suspension from above. Nearly running the entire width of the space, each rib of the undulated ceiling is made from unique pieces of three-quarter-inch birch plywood adhered together in a scenario that likens to a puzzle; only one possible location for each unit, formulating the continuous member. These continuous members are fastened to the main structural ribs running perpendicular to the lattice, tracing both the overall ceiling topography and the steel supports of the base building. Spacing between the visible ceiling ribs is variable; compressing and releasing to maintain visual densities of the overall surface as seen from different angles.

Products in this project

Bathroom Equipment: RIFRA, Nemo Tile

  • Bathroom cabinets by RIFRA
  • Tile: matte black by Nemo Tile

Construction materials, Semi-finished materials: 3form, Lumicor

  • Varia collection Moderna: Solo (color: kiwi) by 3form
  • Botanicals Collection: Woodland by Lumicor

Walls: Knoll, Maharam

  • Front weather curtain: Extreme Velvet (color: alpine) by Knoll
  • Back curtain: Bare (color: lime) by Maharam
Cite: "BanQ / Office dA" 03 Dec 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • fokt

    This place has gone out of business…

  • StructureHub Blog

    Every time I’ve encountered projects, which like this one, use spaced-out layering to play upon concepts of structure and volume, the effect has been endlessly intriguing. This one is no different in that regard. However, it seems to elevate the idea beyond a mere “garnish” to an otherwise ordinary facade; here the layers seem more than just that. They whimsically reflect structural forces themselves, rather than simply enliven their appearance. Nicely done.

  • plots

    nice to see a project which explores the relationship between computer generation of a surface, manufacturing, and the visual effect it has as an experience of the existing structure. I appreciate the topology generated by the contours as it exists along the two different axes, the experience of the contours as a surface in one direction and as a screen in the other.

    Office dA is doing some very interesting work

  • oded
    • Dustin

      exactly what I was thinking…

    • theSelector

      hard to say… one was finished in 2008, one in 2007 perhaps, and we just hear about them both now.

      Banq is closed, and it is a shame.

      • johnson

        Banq only changed chefs and names. It is still there, but is now called Ginger Park. Only slight changes to the configuration of the bar were made. Other than that, it is exactly the same, so don’t worry.

  • Jdisa

    The end result leaves me largely unmoved. While the digital exploration behind this kind of work can be interesting, its translation via the constraints of fabrication reveals the extent to which our construction process so often cannot match our digitally-supported aspirations. Taking beautiful virtual surfaces, and then crudely sectioning and CNC-ing them as flat planes speaks to me of a powerful disconnect between the idea and its realization. The office’s exposition of the project strikes me as profoundly post hoc. I think the challenge for designers is to find a way to use digital technologies in harmony with the possibilities of physical construction, rather than this kind of abrupt collision.

    • martin

      I do not agree, the very idea is that a series of elements reflects a perfect surface, and that individual parts acts as a singular form. If you would just create the surface as such the idea would be lost. And you would loose the transparency in between the sheets.

  • christopher

    you’ve got to realize something about restaurant design: they are projects of minimum inputs to maximum outputs and they usually don’t last long.

    that being said, we have and will continue to see sliced up ceilings in hospitality design because it remains the cheapest and most effective way of replicating a 3d surface in an restaurant interior. there is no “performance” in restaurant design that digital modeling or CNC can draw from (realistically) that would dramatically change the way these projects operate. the “function” IS aesthetic: covering up what the Base-Building Architect left-over for “Build-Out” that no one wants to see in a quality dining atmosphere.

    even so, atmosphere is only 1/3 of the equation for successful restaurants (service and food being the others).

  • thom

    I think it needs a different kind of lighting

  • kfrank

    I’ve toured this space…the spatial effects created by the ceiling/screen are actually pretty amazing. Really intriguing play between light and darkness, depth of view, sense of enclosure, spatial continuity. Much better than the photos suggest. Also, the quality of construction is much better than I expected at first glance. The joinery is seamless and the entire structure is completely rigid. Another amazing project by Office dA.

  • mfa

    Well put Jdisa. A major issue for me is that despite the computer-generated design and fabrication, the end result is still just another expressionistic variation. In fact, its approaching the kitch of Bart Prince, in particular the Joe and Etsuko Price Residence, albiet from a different path…

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  • ryan knock

    i find the comments on this project intriguing … from the complex rants on CNC followed by “it needs better lighting” (yes, these photos are way too bright for a restaurant) to “i’ve toured this place” (really, is the restaurant that hard to get in that you had to book a tour?)

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  • Scott Roschi

    Banq in Boston is an amazing interior with plenty of visual appeal:

  • Cellyism

    Reading: "BanQ / Office dA | ArchDaily"( )

  • amelia
  • Katie Dreitzler
  • Vera Kisel

    plywood beauty – BanQ restaurant from Office dA – #architecture, #interiordesign

  • 채만겸 Man Kyum Chai

    공간연출만큼환상이네염.. ;) RT @verakisel: plywood beauty – BanQ restaurant from Office dA –

  • architastic!

    contender for the "don't bring your date here if they're an architect" list. (unless you don't mind staring at ceilings)

  • Subway Tile Bathroom

    whoah this blog is great i really like reading your posts. Stay up the great work! You know, many people are looking around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

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