Central Trust Bank Branch PrototypeEdit profile
The Central Savings Bank’s program for a 4000 sq. ft. branch bank prototype is the newest commission from a client with whom the architecture firm first collaborated with more than forty years ago. The first project for the Bank was the Central Motor Bank of Jefferson City Missouri. That project explored the use of a modernist language to express the forward thinking goals of the bank and to appeal to the practical sensibilities of its farm based customers. The design for the new branch prototype continues that tradition of exploration and representing the bank’s more contemporary financial businesses and placement in a highly competitive business environment. The program for the branch prototype is an opportunity to examine the evolution of financial institutions in the market place and the nature of contemporary financial transactions. The project comments on the changes in the historical model of the banking typology and its representation of banking. The historic model of the classical façade that urbanistically participated in the village center spoke to the idea of projecting security, strength and conservative fiscal values. This model evolved through the post war modern era as a planning diagram articulated and was given a contemporary quality with the language of modernism. As the traditional bank role has evolved in the community, the nature of the banks need to compete as a ‘brand” changed radically. No longer is the bank’s physicality understood as a foundation of the community’s financial stability, but it is now a highly accessible feature on the suburban and rural streetscape. The physical act of banking and the conventional banking transaction was a highly regarded exchange between a trusted bank employee, the teller and the bank’s customer. This consumer action has been supplemented, or in some examples replaced by drive up window and the ATM machine. Banks themselves have evolved from institutions that dealt in deposits and loans to full service financial houses that offer investment opportunities that look to the world of retailing for practical business models. The architecture firm’s design for the first of three prototype branches—neighborhood, community, and regional—creates a brand that positions the bank in the marketplace while acknowledging the market’s locale. The First National Bank of Missouri is the first of the three prototypes and is an example of the neighborhood branch. The design’s openness and transparency stand in stark contrast to traditional bank design. The project’s strong horizontality references its Midwest location and emphasizes its relationship to the landscape. The cantilevered roof plane and extensive use of glazing creates a pavilion that suggests the openness and inviting nature of the bank’s commitment to its customers. Private and support areas of the bank are defined by a solid masonry volume, which serves as a backdrop for the glass-enclosed public areas. The project’s use of glass and open plan is a deliberate response to the programmatic need to maintain a highly visible, open and inviting environment. In doing so, the building speaks to the transparent nature of contemporary financial transactions, where currency and financial instruments are exchanged, traded, deposited or withdrawn in a seamless manner. It is this transparency that the bank celebrates the dual roles of the seamless virtual financial transaction, the ATM, the drive-thru window and the traditional interaction of customer and bank teller.