ESEO Federal Credit Union

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Project Completed: 1994

Project Type: Commercial

Scope: 7,800 square feet

Photographer: Robert Shimer, Hedrich Blessing


Rand Elliott Architects was hired to design a ground-up building that was conceived as a “portrait” of the members (versus customers) of this growing financial institution.  Its location was two miles north of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Brainstorming sessions were conducted with staff and Board Members separately to define project scope, recognize business goals, and establish a member “portrait” to focus architectural intentions. Key words describing the business philosophy included family atmosphere, member- owned, frugal, trustworthy. Key words that describe member traits were: Average age 3540, family-oriented, middle income, working class, hourly wages, focus on life enjoyment.

Site Concept:

Develop a master plan that allows for a second structure and an expanded drivein. Create an orchard of 53 redbuds (Oklahoma’s state tree) to commemorate the age of the institution at the time of construction.

Functional Considerations

Needs included loan service offices, a vault, a conference/board room, lobby tellers and drivein tellers who share duties and required support tasks. The public spaces would be visually open to assure security and a “nothing to hide” ambience.

Architectural Concept: To create an architectural statement that is a “portrait” of an institution that combines its business philosophy with the personality of its members.  Also to respond to central Oklahoma climate conditions: Cold north winds, hot summer sun (100+ degrees Fahrenheit), prevailing SW winds and the unforgiving western sun, with four distinct seasons.

Word Paintings: An Invaluable Creative Tool

Rand Elliott has used Word paintings as a tool from his early beginnings. His words serve to conjure a vision of what is to be realized, from the ground up.

It’s a meditation on the nature and purpose of the client organization and its goals.  It leads Elliott to his sketchbook, where he begins to methodically imagine the possibilities, weigh the limitations, ask questions and break new ground. The process serves his firm – and his many clients – well. 



Rand Elliott’s word painting for ESEO:

We are merely stewards of this sacred land, here for only a moment.

Touch it lightly.


Grow a sheltering roof from steel branches

and cover a patch of ground

so humans can work in the shadow.

Make it rocky and rusty

and let a bird soar through.


Make a campfire for the spirits

placed in an orchard of Redbud trees

and laced with grass that bleeds.


Ponder the sunset and listen to the steel rust.

– Rand Elliott

This word painting defined a patch of ground with a sheltering roof and steel columns supporting the canopy roof, much as a tree trunk and branches support the leaf canopy of a tree. Integrating the honesty and integrity of the members’ personalities with the richness and depth of state’s  Native American cultures and indigenous materials.

Rusting steel “branches,” field stone, aggregate floors and exposed wood structure communicate a spare, unpretentious, “lodge” atmosphere. A symbolic stone “campfire” is built to recognize the age-old Native American presence on the site.

The four sacred colors (red, yellow, black and white) distinguish the conference room storage cabinet. The conference room roof is a “bird” soaring through the space. It’s a space that evokes the sensation of working outdoors under the shade of a giant tree. 


The project earned Rand Eliott Architects two international design awards from BusinessWeek’s IDEA awards program and a national award from Interiors magazine — and two regional design excellence awards.


Central States Region

1995 Design Excellence Award



Central Oklahoma Chapter

1995 Honor Award




1995 Environments – Gold Award

1995 Best Product Design




1994 Big “I” Award

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