OPN honored with AIA Iowa Excellence in Design Awards
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust’s new Marion Branch and Flint Public Library were both honored by the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with an Excellence in Design Award during the 2022 annual convention in Des Moines on September 29.
Awarded annually, the AIA Iowa Excellence in Design awards recognize excellence in architecture projects designed by members of AIA Iowa. Awards reflect a project’s design excellence, response to solving architectural challenges, and importance in the community.
Known for warm and welcoming service, including signature chocolate chip cookies, this new bank branch embodies the bank’s commitment to community and fostering relationships.
The new 4,100-square-foot bank balances transparency and security while embracing the idea of building as a billboard. Inside, a conference room and three offices hold the elevation fronting the urban-edge. Careful detailing allows the steel structure and office modules to work in concert. Clerestory windows reinforce the interior circulation path and diffuse light through translucent glass. Walnut wood used at the teller counter and slat wall that wraps the vault and support spaces brings warmth to the core of the light-filled open space. A singular and continuous roof plane extends beyond the glass box creating a front porch that is connected visually to the living room inside. This roof plane also supports a photovoltaic array to significantly reduce the building’s energy impact.
In a community struggling with systemic socio-economic and social divides, the Flint Public Library sought to transform, renew, revitalize, and reinvent itself. In the face of adversity, 1950s building became a modern and flexible beacon for learning and hope.
The library was remade from the inside out, transforming to an equitable, confident, and aspirational place for the community. While maintaining the original footprint of the building, the 94,000 square foot interior was reconfigured to include new openings between the first and second floors. Exterior architectural fins, both new and existing, were reclad to reflect the surrounding midcentury buildings that comprise the cultural campus on which the library sits.
The improved floor plan increased efficiency and reclaimed 16,000-square feet of underutilized space. The new layout leverages expanses along exterior walls to create day-lit meeting rooms of various sizes to accommodate formal meetings, community groups, and more intimate informal discussions. A modern, retail-centric service model removes the traditional circulation desk, creating opportunities for staff and visitor interactions throughout the first-floor collection areas. Children’s services and technology spaces both doubled in size. On the second floor, interactive kiosks put the library’s unique African American Sports Hall of Fame archives on display.
As the community continues to recover from a well-known water crisis, this library also integrates new outdoor program spaces, gardens, terraces, and water filtration systems to encourage and support healing. The once dark and dated regional reference library is now a flexible, community-focused, and light-filled space with improved wayfinding and visual connections throughout.
“This is what children deserve, not what they need. They deserve it.”
– Kevelin Jones II, Assistant Superintendent, Flint Community Schools