original publication material - courtesy of Deborah Berke & Partners Architects
Irwin Union BankEdit profile
In the architecturally renowned town of Columbus, Indiana, Irwin Union Bank continues its tradition of building modern, innovative banks—precedents set by 20th century masters like Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche—with this new 4000 square foot branch.
Despite its location in the wide-open expanse of a strip shopping mall that includes a Wal-mart, Kohl’s department store, and a sea of parking, the new branch is distinguished from its vast context by its elegant and economic design. Due to budget requirements, common methods and local materials, such as brick veneer and Indiana limestone were used whenever possible so that money could be put where it would provide the greatest return—a single beautiful gesture that serves as the building’s identifying moment.
This single design gesture—a glass clerestory structure akin to a “Light Box”—floats above the main brick building and distinguishes it within this vast context. At night it is illuminated from within and becomes a floating sculpture that is visible from all directions to passing cars.
The “Light Box” also functions as a canopy for the bank’s drive-thru lanes and signals that this type of banking has become as much a part of life as walking into the bank and dealing with a teller face-to-face. Within the interior and exterior spaces defined under the “Light Box”, both groups of customers are served by the same line of tellers.
Made of planks of structural channel glass, the clerestory structure gives double height to the bank’s main hall and fills it with plentiful natural light, in relief from the windowless, fluorescent-lit spaces of the nearby big retail chains.
Original description by Deborah Berke & Partners