The 60th floor of the Bank of America Corporate Center is a mysterious, mythical place. At nearly 776 feet above the ground, it's one of the highest spots a person can visit in Charlotte. It's situated higher than the top of the Space Needle and the Washington Mounument, and it presumably offers unparralleled views of not just the city, but the entire region.
And it's strictly closed off to the public.
That had WFAE listener Aaron Hopping curious. What exactly is housed on the top floor? Is it an executive's office? A penthouse suite? Something else? He wrote in to FAQ City with the following question:
What's at the top of the Bank of America tower, and how far can you see from there?
A request to tour the 60th floor was turned down by a bank representative, who cited security concerns. But the bank agreed to make a longtime executive, Charles Bowman, available for an interview about the top floor.
He said the 60th floor, which sits just below the building's 95-foot crown, is occupied by two spaces. One is a large, windowless board room encased in wood paneling and furnished with nice chairs and a conference table, and the other is an airy event space with a podium, large columns, and floor to ceiling windows.
"It's like taking a lobby and putting it up 60 floors," he said.
The board room is exclusively used by the bank's board of directors, and the event space is used for special occasions like employee send-offs, and for entertaining the bank's clients.
And yes, the view is exceptional.
"When you're up there, you're mesmerized by what you see," Bowman said. "You can see all the way to UNCC. You can see the Charlotte Motor Speedway. You can see Ballantyne, Southpark. You can see most of the airport from up there."
The view does get obscured when it's foggy out, or if a thunderstorm is rolling through the area. Bowman says he's never felt the building sway from the top floor, but a heavy rainstorm will visibly rattle and shake the windows - and employee nerves.
One of the more spectaclur sights from the building's upper levels is fireworks, which Bowman has viewed from inside the building in the past.
"One year, they actually fired the fireworks off of the deck next to Founder's Hall," he said, "They haven't done that in a long time for probably a lot of reasons, but yeah, that's pretty spectacular."
Although, it means having to sit through hours of traffic to get home afterward.
Bowman said he will bring clients to the top floor and tell them to linger and enjoy the view. Some people with a fear of heights don't want to go near the windows, but others will take time to stare out at the city and the surrounding landscape.
Has the view ever influenced a deal? Probably not, Bowman said, but it may have helped "seal the deal" for clients interested in investing or relocating to Charlotte, and it likely has other benefits.
"It's probably helped us recruit people, probably has helped us show off our city a little bit," he said. "You don't get a perspective from the ground level of all the things that Charlotte has to offer, but when you go up there, you can sort of get a better feel for the whole, instead of just a block or two."
It's unlikely the top floor will ever be opened to the public; the bank hopes to preserve it as a special meeting space for employees and important clients.
Instead, the rest of us will have to seek out views elsewhere - perhaps a rooftop bar, or a fancy hotel room in center city. That, or consider a window-washing gig.
- The building was designed by Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, who also designed the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the World Financial Center in New York.
- Topping out at 871 feet, the skyscraper is the tallest in North Carolina, and the tallest between Atlanta and Washington, DC.
- It's sometimes referred to as the "Tower of Power" or the "Taj McColl" after Bank of America's former president, Hugh McColl.
- Upon the building's completion in 1992, the bank threw a flashy opening ceremony that included Fort Bragg soldiers repelling down the tower, a water ballet performed in the Founders Hall fountain, and a fireworks show.
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