It was in 1907 that the bank bought the three-floor corner house built in 1873 next to its offices at 20 Rákóczi Street. In the spring of 1911 they launched an architectural competition for the plans of a new building to be constructed in its place that would combine the functions of a central office and apartments for rent. From the twenty contestants it was the plan by Béla Lajta that was declared the winner. The president and CEO of the bank at the time, also a prominent figure on the political arena of the district, Gusztáv G. Ehrlich was in close connection with Lajta, because he was the chairman of the construction committee for the Chevra Kadisha Charity Home as well. Construction work began in the autumn of 1911 and was finished by the end of 1912, in accordance with the modified plans dating from that year. The expenses ran to 1.8 million crowns. The plans exceeded the cubic content limit at several points, but the project, carried out under the auspices of such a prominent municipal politician, was always given the thumbs-up.

In terms of their floor plans the three versions of the plans are hardly different from one another: the two lower floors are occupied by the bank offices, topped by four housing floors and a mansard floor for service and maintenance functions. The banking hall is covered with a glazed roof ten meters above the ground. The upper floors all share the same floor plan: each one is divided into two five-room and a three-room flat with all rooms overlooking the street.

The elevations, on the other hand, underwent major transformations in the process: ornamentation became less overflowing and more sophisticated, the prominence of the corner and the plasticity of the building was gradually reduced. On the business levels the richly ornamented pillars were replaced with 10-meter high fluted column-shafts – in the final version this monumental solution was only applied on the Rákóczi Street front. The vertical division of the residential levels was changed into horizontal only in the last version of the elevations: the windows along the central axes of the main front are arranged into swathes by cornices with folk art inspired terracotta panels between them. The recessed upper floor (which stresses the horizontality of the main front) that Lajta used instead of the more widespread mansard roof has a similar terracotta panelling with more stylised motifs. The two unadorned side fronts received a simple brick cladding.

The financial situation of the bank became shaky by early 1913, so they were forced to rent out the brand new offices. As a result, the space originally intended to be the banking hall was divided by a gallery as early as 1914-15, when the Antal & Hosszú Fashion Company rented this part of the building. The building as a whole, however, became the prototype for the undetached metropolitan building with a mixed commercial and tenement function, whose design and outward appearance served as a model even 25 years later, when another house in the same block was being planned.

Date of planning
1911.02 - 1912.07
Date of construction
1911.10 - 1912.11
Original address
VII. Rákóczi út 18.
VII. Rákóczi út 18.
Budapest-Erzsébetváros Bank
József Mann

Planning drawings

Afterlife of the building

Documentation of the present state of the building