Security Federal Savings and Loan

LOCATION:  2600 9th Street North, St. Pete

ARCHITECT:  Wenceslao Alfonso Sarmiento

BUILT:  1961


ORIGINAL FUNCTION: Bank Office Building



The Security Federal Savings and Loan Association was designed by W.A. Sarmiento, chief designer for the Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America.  The estimated cost of the structure and furnishings was reported to be $900,000.  Completed in 1961, the building consisted of a seven-story circular structure with a main floor circular lobby enclosed by glass and attached to an eight-story rectangular mass.  On the interior, a circular staircase, sometimes called a “horn of plenty” and one of Sarmiento’s design hallmarks, led to a second floor upper lobby with executive offices.  The sixth floor “skyline room” had a 74-seat employee lounge and dining area.  There one could get a view of the Tampa Bay area and St. Petersburg skyline.  The seventh floor contained the 150-ton air conditioning system and storage space, which at the time was unique to put all the mechanical equipment on the roof.  The rectangular mass also contained all the elevators, stairways, plumbing, and HVAC, allowing the more prominent circular office tower to hold office space and command the views out of the ribbons of horizontal windows. (source)


Wenceslao Alfonso Sarmiento, also known as W.A. Sarmiento is a Peruvian-born American modernist architect.   Sarmiento studied in various locations in South America, for eighteen months in the office of Oscar Niemeyer, before coming to the United States. In 1951 while visiting his sister-in-law in Missouri he rear ended an architect who worked for the St. Louis based Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America. He was hired soon after and served as the head designer for the corporation from 1951 through 1961, after which he founded his own sixty-person Sarmiento Associates office based in St. Louis, Missouri. He relocated to Santa Monica California in the 1970s. He retired in 1980. 

Sarmiento designed hundreds of banks and other buildings in the postwar years of bank modernization in downtowns, and the construction of new suburban bank towers. His larger work appears as crisp International Style with a visible influence from Niemeyer, perhaps most obvious in his largest project, the 1968 Phoenix Financial Center on Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. The smaller branch banks tend to be more playful, eye-catching projects.   Sarmiento lived in Santa Monica, California and was still active in the preservation of his buildings until his death in 2013.