Lunchtime tourist

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November 1, 2004 // UPDATED 4:35 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

American Express Financial Advisors tower

707 2nd Ave. S.

Looking like a minimalist sculpture on the skyline, American Express Financial Services tower (a.k.a. "The 707 Building") is the largest single-tenant office building Downtown.

The 30-story tower features a curving glass form that seems to slice through the more traditional, rectangular-grid block granite part of the building. The distinctive design seems to visually express the firm's slogan: "Remembering the past . . . looking to the future."

Built in 2000, the building's distinctive shape was made with 5,000 tons of steel, 34,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 150,000 square feet of Minnesota Cold Spring granite.

The exterior's surface pattern is composed of polished and flame-finished granite inset with windows of bluish-green glass.

The 707 Building was designed by HKS, Inc., one of the largest architectural firms in the United States. Harwood Knox Smith, who was born in Chicago in 1913, founded the firm in 1939. Today, it has over 400 architects working in seven offices in the United States, as well as in Mexico City and London.

HKS, Inc.'s diverse projects include banks, churches, hotels and resorts, educational buildings, sports centers and healthcare facilities -- such as Abbott Northwestern's Cardiovascular Care Center currently being built on East 27th Street & 10th Avenue South.

As for the building's occupants, American Express originally got its start in 1850 as a courier. American Express stagecoach drivers carried packages and bank deposits that needed to be delivered with extra security.

In 1895, the American Express Travelers Cheques debuted with the two-part signature system still used today.

The credit card with which the company is primarily associated today was launched in 1958 with more than 250,000 cards originally issued and 17,500 merchants agreeing to accept them.

Today, American Express also deals in international travel, insurance, banking, brokerage and other financial services and is the largest diversified financial services firm in the world -- proving that millions "don't leave home without it."

LUNCH TIP: Enjoy a "skyway burger" across the street at Dan Kelly's Bar & Grill, 212 S. 7th St.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.