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Texas Bank Refreshes its Image in a Houston Landmark

AmeGy Bank steps back in time to step forward.
Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

When Amegy Bank began its search for space to house a retail branch and wealth management suite in downtown Houston, the historic and newly renovated Esperson buildings offered an unusual opportunity to create a new aesthetic for the bank. Constructed in 1927 and 1941, the combined Niels and Mellie Esperson Buildings were not only an identifiable landmark, but offered the unique advantage of ‘one stop shopping’ for bank customers. Amegy could place an ATM at the tunnel level (accessible to the bustling lunch crowd), a retail space at street level, and a wealth management suite on the 13th floor, all connected by the same elevator bank.

Positioning three services within one location speaks directly to the bank’s core principles, best outlined by chief executive officer, Steve Stephens: “We look at banking from our clients’ perspective and….we bring solutions to clients by being proactive and providing them access to all parts of the bank in their own geographic areas.” This attention to client-based banking drove the bank’s decision to depart from its traditional retail branch design, lease space in a landmark building, and engage IA to bring site and bank together.

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Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

Given the prominent street presence of the retail space, IA capitalized on the foot and commuter traffic that passes by each day. Visibility from a slow and fast perspective is central to the design’s focus. The main corner visibility was dedicated to a jewel-box conference room that provides a sightline into the sleek interpretation of the ‘new way of banking’ for Amegy.

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Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

To develop a unique design approach for the project, the IA team explored materiality and sought authenticity. IA was able to pay homage to the historic building with the use of mixed metallic throughout. Copper and gold hardware, silver chain, and warm jewel tones blend harmoniously with the building, but still maintain a more contemporary edge than most banking environments.

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Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

This project was a departure from Amegy’s past look and feel. The bank recently restructured its banking style, eliminating the conventional ‘teller pod’ and going to a ‘universal banker’ module with two concierge-like employees who greet visitors and assist them at an informal station that also has a cash recycler to dispense money.

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Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

An ‘info bar’ arrangement provides tablets for accessing the many online banking features, with a nearby coffee bar and amenities. It was IA’s charge to take these innovative concepts and give them a twist relevant to the historic building and this unique concept.

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Amegy Bank in Houston. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

Upstairs, the wealth management suite is designed as a cousin to the retail space. This multi-purpose floor, housing Amegy’s wealth management services, can accommodate large conferences and events. With visiting clientele in mind, a more refined aesthetic combines the decor of the historic building with an all-in-one business experience that pays homage to both the building and brand.

Through the selection of the Esperson buildings and IA’s design expertise, Amegy Bank developed three unique spaces in one historic site, introduced fresh concepts to its retail presence, and strengthened its position in historic downtown Houston.

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