Neighborhood banks used to be so money--architecturally speaking

September 7, 2011

A national bank is building a new branch on a commercial intersection not far from where I live. A few lengths of structural steel went up, and the rest seems to be plywood and brick veneer.

That's why this bank building pictured above caught my attention while I was driving past 100th and Kedzie in Evergreen Park a few days ago. Built 50 years ago as Evergreen Savings & Loan, this Harris Bank branch is a well-preserved example of what neighborhood banks used to be, architecturally. It's substantial, sober, efficient and modern. You know you'd get a desk-set, a calendar, a bronze paperweight--something--for opening an account there, back when. The architecture tells you.

I like the Mondrianesque curtain wall facing Kedzie:

That bank branch that's under construction? It's not finished, but already you can tell the completed building won't stand out. It won't register visually. And it's not supposed to. The building is only built for speed: just enough architecture to collect the money--collect the fees--lock up for the night and repeat the next day. The architecture is telling us something there as well.