Tag Archives: Regions Bank

Viva downtown

Projecting confidence

This morning the Design Review Committee approved new illuminated signage at the top of the former Region’s Plaza building (rendering above, corner of 20th Street North and 5th Avenue). The 1976 building–home to Regions Bank before mergers and consolidations emptied it in 2007–has most recently been the subject of different hotel proposals. Viva Health–a Birmingham-based HMO–is now creating its new headquarters in the building. It will reorganize the ground floor, which previously had bank and elevator lobbies, into retail tenant space, with a Viva-run coffee shop planned on 20th Street (other tenants to be announced). Slight changes were mandated to the signage presented, but it will look essentially as depicted above, on all four sides.

As we’ve recently discussed in other contexts, while it’s great that a locally-based company is helping to fill a long-vacant tower downtown–and is adding its  brand to the skyline–it’s moving from a Southside location on the other side of downtown. Will its former location be quickly filled by a new occupant? Given its proximity to UAB‘s campus, chances are high that it won’t be vacant for long.

Viva, welcome to the CBD.We encourage you especially to design your coffee shop in a way that engages passerby and enlivens your storefronts.

[thanks to Fravert for the rendering]

A little history (2)

Design worth preserving

In an earlier post, we discussed the colorful history of the area around the current Regions Bank in the Lakeview District (3rd Avenue South and 32nd Street, above). At the time Barber Companies was regrading vacant land across the street into parking; they have since started construction on a new office building, a hopeful sign this urban neighborhood will continue to see investment and revitalization. The start of the new building is seen below, across 32nd Street from the bank.

Underway courtesy of Barber

This morning at the City’s Design Review Committee, Regions presented a request to demolish the existing drive-through canopy at the rear of their building, and replace it with a new one. The existing canopy is very visible, since it faces the bank parking lot which extends to the alley; in effect the rear facade is almost as important as the front given its high level of exposure. The Committee denied the request, and asked for Regions to return with a revised proposal. Why?

It's all about proportion

As seen above, the existing drive-through canopies (to the right) mimic the thin, light effect of other canopies on the building. You can observe this characteristic at the angled canopy to the right on the front facade, or at the back entrance to the left of the drive-through. That lightweight quality in projecting architectural elements is typical of this sort of “Miami Modern” architecture.

The proposal removed the existing staggered canopy system and replaced it with a singular, heavy-set canopy that’s identical to what one sees at a typical gas station. Instead of the perhaps 8-9 inch height of the current canopy, the new one was to be 36 inches high, ostensibly to hide the pneumatic tubes that are currently exposed. Committee member Mark Fugnitto eloquently defended the architectural merits of the building, and asked that Regions put some thought into designing a canopy that’s consistent with those merits.

Hard to win anyone over with this

The other issue with the presentation was the lack of basic presentation materials. Rather than a set of good, illustrative drawings and (preferably) a rendering, only a photo (similar to the above) was presented of a generic, gas-station-like canopy from some other location. The Regions building does not rise to the level of being iconic, but it still serves as a very good example of this period of commercial architectural history. The Committee was absolutely right to insist on a more professional, and thoughtful, effort from the bank.

[thanks to rocketdogphoto for the gas station canopy]

Delivering the message (2)

Banker, meet skater

In a happy note before kicking off the weekend, I opened up the Regions Social Responsibility Report 2010–just off the presses–and flipped it open to the above photo of a happy Regions Bank executive observing the balletic feats of a skater. Kudos to Regions for their help funding Railroad Park, and for deciding to frame this particular shot–a metaphor for different segments of our community coming together for the common good.

You can read the entry about Birmingham in the report here, and download the entire report here.

Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see a Regions Skate Park in our future? Bankers and skaters across the metro, have a great weekend.

[Thanks to Regions Bank for the pic]