Wainwright Bank hired Approach Architects to design and manage the construction for their new retail banking facility in Newton, MA. The new branch was to be located in a former apparel store on Centre Street. The branch program was to include (5) full service teller stations, (3) platform desks, (2) private offices, (1) community room, doubling as the “cyber café”, (1) night drop and (2) full service ATM’s and support areas.
The goal of the project was to establish an environmentally friendly and light filled branch, resulting in a welcoming space for both the customer and employee. Through the innovative use of recycled and sustainable building materials, natural lighting, low-energy and low-water use fixtures, and the recycling of construction waste, this project could earn Wainwright Bank their first LEED Gold Certification.
Like Wainwright’s Coolidge Corner and Davis Square locations, this branch features a “cyber café” which is integrated into the Community Room. The Community Room is open to the public during business hours and offers to its visitors, free internet access, coffee, and a place to sit and watch the news or to relax with a newspaper. After hours, this room is closed off from the rest of the bank and may be used by community members on a reserve basis. The furniture provided in the community room is meant to be reconfigurable to provide seating and work surfaces for its users. Typically in the evenings, it is a favorite meeting spot for local non-profit organizations.
The narrow and dark retail site was adjacent to a small public alley. The building façade adjacent to this alley was windowless. We designed a series of new windows along this wall, which greatly improved the quality of light inside the space as well as the look of the exterior. For the client, this simple strategy immensely improved their street presence and visibility. The Community Room enjoys two walls of windows, and each customer service representative occupies a workstation directly in front of a large window. With minimal use of opaque partitions, every employee has a direct view to the exterior.
In the areas not directly connected to the exterior, we installed small skylights, called suntubes. The suntubes have domed acrylic diffusers at both ends. From the interior they appear to be another light fixture mounted in the ceiling, but they are actually penetrations through the roof that permit daylight to filter into the interior. The sixteen suntubes installed in this branch offset the need for artificial lighting, saving energy.
To maximize the size of the branch lobby in this narrow space, the teller stations are staggered in a saw-tooth pattern that is angled at 45 degrees off the party wall. The staggered teller configuration increases the feeling of privacy and individual attention at each station. The soffit above the teller stations is configured in the same pattern and provides a canvas for the yellow neon tube which bends along its face. Because the teller row and the soffit above face the front corner windows, it is easy to spot the yellow neon from the sidewalk outside.
In order to meet the LEED certification standards, the finish palette for the branch includes many sustainable and recycled materials. The most visible of these materials are the flooring, the counter tops, the millwork laminates, and the storefront framing. The floor in the public spaces is a bamboo hardwood, selected for bamboo’s renewable properties. The millwork counter tops are made with recycled materials and many of the cabinet faces are made with bamboo veneers. The storefront framing was fabricated using recycled aluminum. Many of the hidden surfaces were selected for their sustainable properties, such as the millwork substrate, the rubber flooring in the support areas, and the gypsum wallboard throughout the space.
Integrated into the teller millwork are ten of Wainwright’s “Socially Responsible” Value Logos. On the face of each teller station are two illuminated graphic panels, each with a single colored logo that symbolizes Wainwright’s support for an important social issue, such as Community Development, Environmentalism, and Diversity. The concept of the illuminated panel is carried throughout the branch. There are colored panels used on the check desks, in the Community Room, and as privacy screens for the customer service representatives.