The ideal bank
Paul Morgan Photography
Today as in the past, bank premises must be able to convey a series of immediately perceptible values, including reliability and simplicity, elegance, prestige and transparency. Called on to develop a type of building that would be capable of reconciling efficiency with a powerful image, the designers of the first nineteenth century banks gradually developed a model combining impressive, prestigious exteriors with state-of-the-art interiors equipped with the latest technology and meticulously designed furnishings. The relationship between bank premises and cities has changed a great deal over the years, as has that between banks and their clientele, which has taken on a more public, impersonal and bureaucratic nature. Nonetheless, architects commissioned to design bank premises today must still convey the same set of values as in the past – albeit with different stylistic choices – and create a functional and elegant environment that symbolises the solidity of the institution.
In the case of Associated Bank, the materials and spatial configuration play a key role in the quest for transparency and organisational clarity – characteristics that have both practical and symbolic value. The Chicago office of this major bank, which has more than 200 branches throughout the states of Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, had to align its corporate image with that of the headquarters in Green Bay. This was done by adopting similar materials and furnishings and maintaining two important design characteristics: the use of natural light and a visual connection between the various spaces.
The project, carried through in 2014 by the US practice Interior Architects, involved renovating an approximately 2,800 sq.m space over two floors. The glazed walls used for the exterior elevations, for some interior partitions and on the staircase allow a visual connection to be maintained between the various areas of the bank and offer a breathtaking view over Chicago. The bank’s employees and customers can look out over the city and in turn are visible from the outside. The materials used offer complementary characteristics and messages: the cool, global modernity of glass and steel is balanced by the warm wood of the interior panelling and by the reassuring appeal of marble, a material that has been popular since antiquity. The material chosen for the floor covering in the most important areas of the bank is the Marvel Floor Design series of ceramic tiles from Atlas Concorde. These tiles provide a faithful reproduction of a splendid, timeless stone while delivering the outstanding technical qualities of porcelain which are so important in public spaces, including resistance to abrasion, wear and staining, ease of cleaning and non-slip properties. Bright, shiny and elegant, they extend across the floors in the reception, the internal staircase and the conference room, contributing powerfully to the overall impression of brightness and sober elegance that the designers were so keen to convey.
Atlas Concorde, Marvel Floor Design series
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 150 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): R ≥ 40 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant