First Bank Branch - Farmington, MO

The program called for a small community bank and adjacent tenant space with a substantial drive-up business. The primary design challenges resulted from the site’s awkward configuration and location. Required setbacks, drive lane requirements, and a shared parking cross-easement dictated this unusual plan form. Would it be possible to create a bank with an odd footprint that connotes substance, presence and character with a relatively low budget in the shadow of the local Wal-Mart and sandwiched between a “family fun center” and discount tire outlet? Could this be done without resorting to either a cliched neoclassicism or other surface treatment tricks?

Reacting intuitively, the architect intends a bank that is essentially a sanctuary from its neighbors. The main lobby strives to be an impressive, uncluttered space in which views are carefully focused up and out toward sky and away from the surrounding highway architecture. The interior is also designed as an antidote to standard commercial fare, avoiding in customer areas the ubiquitous commercial ceiling drop grid and fluorescent down lights. Instead there is a clean vaulted space, illuminated, heated and cooled by indirect fixtures concealed in a perimeter wood cove.

The bank’s larger exterior massing distinguishes it from the connected tenant space. This, the vaulted roof forms, and large, clerestory windows give the building presence from the highway. The polished, ground-face concrete masonry of the bank with granite accents at the bank entry and drive-up window are set off by the dark glass-and-grid of the remaining exterior skin.