American Bank occupies one corner of the main intersection in Edmond, an affluent suburb of Oklahoma City. The other three contain gas stations and strip centers without edges or any sense of permanence. How to create identity in such an amorphous context? Elliott + Associates’ answer was to turn the bank into a piece of public art inspired equally by Mies van der Rohe and Bruce Goff.
The plan is a broken triangle, with the lobby filling the apex and two legs flaring out to frame the intersection. A canopy of crisscrossing I beams – the Mies part – floats above the drive-in lanes, beyond which lies a small green park offering momentary relief from the dreary strip mall landscape. A corner brick tower, with the bank’s logo cut into its face, completes the composition.
Yet American Bank’s most dramatic feature is a rectangular south window made from cullets of molten glass. This is Elliott’s homage to Bruce Goff, who used similar materials at the Price Studio in Bartlesville. Yet the gesture is pragmatic as well as honorific. With no exterior views to worry about, the design turns inward. From the lobby the cullet window becomes a cascade of light and shadow and mysterious forms, like a frozen underwater tableau. Nothing like that at Wal-Mart.