This Irwin Union Bank building is a new 4,000 square foot branch of the bank, located in the architecturally renown town of Columbus, Indiana. Irwin Union Bank has a tradition of building modern, innovative buildings, including branches by such 20th century masters as Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche.
The project's 1.6 acre site sits in the wide-open expanse of a strip shopping mall, which includes big-box stores and a sea of parking. The design acknowledges a phenomenon now common to most American towns and cities: cars passing by on the main strip would offer the primary views of the building. The design goal was, therefore, to find a strategy that would prevent the building, despite its modest size, from getting lost in the jumbled expanse. A simple and bold design gesture was needed.
A major component of the new building is drive-thru banking, which the design acknowledges as an equal partner to more traditional walk-in banking. Floating above the masonry building, a ‘Light Box’ spans both the drive-thru lanes as well as the main banking hall inside. This translucent box, made of planks of structural channel glass, permits natural light to filter down into the banking hall. Owing to the mysterious, translucent quality of this glass, the ‘Light Box’ also glows outwardly as an ambiguous sculptural object that is neither building nor sign. It floats in the air, lending the new bank building a steady, quietly elegant presence that serves as a refreshing counterpoint to the heavy, sprawling retail buildings nearby.