Citizens Bank Corporate Headquarters
“An anti-bank” . . . that’s what our clients seemed to be describing as the vision for their new headquarters . . . a bank that didn’t look, feel, or function like a traditional bank. They sought a design that created a compelling experience with features and amenities atypical in banking, specifically to engage their customers and community.
The strategy was to remove the intimidation too often associated with banking by moving away from an imposing exterior presence and an interior with small, stuffy spaces for customer interaction to a building and spaces that were open and inviting and more conducive to one-on-one engagements in more relaxed and comfortable surroundings.
The small and elevated site proved to be a challenge for the massing of the building. To avoid creating an imposing presence on the adjacent streets, deep recesses were carved out of larger stone and masonry volumes and elements allowing light and shadow to reduce the apparent mass during the day. The interior planes of the incised areas were accentuated with cedar-grained extruded aluminum planks washed with interior and exterior lighting, reversing the play of light and shadow at night. Extensive use of curtainwall in these recesses and elsewhere opens the bank’s interior day and night, symbolically removing barriers that can separate banker from customer. This transparency also allows major building interior features such as highly-articulated wood ribbon and cloud ceilings, a sculptural steel grand staircase, and exposed building structure to be visible design elements at all times of the day.
Transparency permeates the interior as well through the use of clear glass walls, further eliminating the perceived barriers . . . with the added benefit of an interior completely bathed with natural light. Maple, rift cut white oak, and cherry woods are used extensively throughout the building, providing a warm contrast to the more modern interior finishes and building elements. Backlit and edge lit glazing is a predominant design feature used for creating strong visual elements including a monumental glowing glass and steel truss designed as a gateway feature to the main lending floor and a transaction area that breaks down a typical teller line “rampart” into a staggered series of individual kiosks separated by backlit translucent glass walls.
The vision for community engagement is exhibited in spaces designed for public use and as places to conduct business, including an internet coffee shop featuring local coffees, a community room, a rooftop patio overlooking the White River Valley and Ozark foothills beyond, and numerous semi-private conversation areas. The building articulates the Owner’s goal of transforming the traditional image of a bank and the banking experience to one which encourages openness and collaboration and community engagement.