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Sao Paulo from Banespa | by  victorgil84 © Madrid
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Sao Paulo from Banespa

The Altino Arantes Building also known as the Banespa Building, is an important skyscraper located in São Paulo, Brazil.

The building was constructed to be the headquarters of the Bank of the State of São Paulo (Banespa), between 1939 and 1947. It remained the tallest building of the city for two decades until surpassed by the Edifício Itália. Soon after its completion in the 1940s, it was named the world's largest structure of reinforced concrete. It was designed by Plínio Botelho do Amaral, who was inspired by the Empire State Building and Frank Lloyd Wright. Its panoramic view of the center of São Paulo and its outskirts attract thousands of visitors. In the future, the Altino Arantes building will become the headquarters of the Banespa Cultural Institute, facilitating artistic and cultural activities.

After its foundation in 1909, the Banespa underwent a period of substantial expansion and needed a larger headquarters. The first place chosen for such purpose was in the Square Ramos de Azevedo, a place distant from the São Paulo's banking district near the streets Is Bento and XV de Novembro. Determined to move to an area of more economic prominence, the bank made an agreement with the Santa Casa de Misericórdia to purchase a building that they would demolish to construct a new headquarters on João Brícola street. The project was held in the account of the engineer and architect Plinio Botelho do Amaral, but was adapted by the contracting firm Camargo & Mesquita, who wanted to construct something similar to the Empire State Building.

Construction began on September 19, 1939. After almost 8 years, the building was inaugurated on June 27, 1947 as São Paulo's tallest, being 161.22 meters in height. It remained São Paulo's tallest skyscraper for nearly 20 years. In the time of inauguration it was also tallest skyscraper outside United States.[3] During much time the building was easily identifiable due to the luminous signboard that shone from its roof. In the following year a French magazine called it the biggest structure of armed concrete of the world, because many big buildings (including the Empire State Building, which at the time was the world's tallest) were constructed with metal. In the decade of the 1960s the building's name was changed to "Edifício Altino Arantes", an homage to the first Brazilian president of the bank, Altino Arantes Marques. Since then, the building has not undergone any significant external alterations, even after the 2000 sale of Banespa to the Spanish financial group Banco Santander Central Hispano.

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Taken on August 21, 2012