TUSCON, Ariz. -- With its latest branch, Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union has managed to embody the friendliness of the area and Interim CEO Ellen Yacovone couldn't be happier.
"We didn't want a cookie cutter branch," said Yacovone. "This branch, since it was in the desert and a neighborhood that went undeveloped for so many years, had to just echo Tucson and convey that we're their hometown credit union who understands the local culture. It was important to us to create something that would add to the beauty of the area not detract from it."
Turning to St. Louis-based design and build firm NewGround, the $156 million credit union seems to have accomplished its goal with the 4,000-square-foot facility.
Yacovone and NewGround worked together to create a modern space that would demonstrate that the credit union is part of the Tucson community and committed to providing members with the technology and superior service its members crave.
For Tucson Old Pueblo CU the path to differentiation is authenticity. The exterior and interior of branch design demonstrates to members that the credit union understands Tucson, and the fact that the environment is an important element in creating architecture for the area. Natural materials were used to create features that define the Southwest-style design. Splayed stucco walls, a clay-tiled roof, vigas ceiling beams, and a kiva fireplace converge to create a space that recharges the heritage and character of Tucson.
"The member reaction has been phenomenal, and they are so thrilled not just with the look and feel of this branch but the convenience as well," said Yacovone. "There's a residential area across from it, and you can't go much farther without hitting the mountains so it is a great spot for potential growth and our existing members tell me they're happy not to have to drive the 10 miles to the main office anymore."
The culture-influenced design interplays with the contemporary functional components of a financial environment to provide an inviting and engaging atmosphere. An open teller line, cash recyclers and dispensers, digital screens, Internet station and investment area come together with an Adobe-style design to create what Yacovone and NewGround described as a unique branch that pushes the envelope of design and speaks directly to the Tucson market.
"For the interior we wanted the environment to be warm and welcoming so in addition to the structural elements like the kiva as soon as you walk in, you are greeted by someone," said Yacovone. "We also didn't want to be like others, so instead of installing the typical coffee bar, we decided since we're in the desert to offer bottle branded water instead. There are some members who just come in to say hi and that is great because we're building relationships."
Removing physical barriers such as a traditional teller line and having retail service-orientated branch staffers have helped the credit union make strides toward more of a dialogue with members rather than just providing transactions, added Yacovone.
The space is also environmentally sound and considerate of the 365 days of sunshine Tucson gets a year. Passive solar design was used to cool the facility. Wide-span lattices were used as sunscreens for shading the building. The orientation of the branch brings in natural light, and solar tubes were placed around the skylights to collect energy and give the impression of continuous light from above.