A true standout among the award winners, this design is as striking as when it was originally unveiled. The corner bank gleams with an exterior of stainless steel and granite. Floor to ceiling windows illuminate the three-story height space. Patrons enter through a curved corner entrance up a short flight of stairs. The interior the original mosaic floors and teakwood walls although the mural featuring Forest Hills has been lost. The bank is surprisingly unlike most of architect Philip Birnbaum’s other designs; he was primarily known for his large apartment building towers in brick.
The rehabilitation of this bank structure was done to address “serious deficiencies in design” according to the Queens Chamber program. The original bank was built in 1960 before zoning in the area changed so the bank management was limited in what changes they could make and were unable to extent the building substantially. Instead the space was opened up and stone walls and large glass windows with bronzed aluminum trim were used to frame the exterior.
Designed by the prolific firm of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, this one-story bank branch has a long wall of white travertine panels facing Hillside Avenue. Originally this wall was unrelieved but a set of doors have since been added. The building is topped by a striking, geometric roofline of double tees. Both ends of the building are enclosed in a full glass wall and a now-closed drive through teller window is located on the interior side wall.
This branch was designed by the bank’s in-house design team, although it is unclear if the architect was William Shenton, an in-house designer who was credited with the design of First National City’s Maspeth Branch the following year. The building is clad in brick and the front elevation is slightly recessed and clad in ceramic tiles. The exposed side panels of the entrance area have square cut-outs that give at least the primary facade some dynamic qualities.
This building was at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Broadway, a location especially chosen to give the bank prominent placement. It is unclear why a round bank was designed although the award”s program states that the round shape was informed by the corner lot and need for an entrance facing the intersection. However, with Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s complex of round buildings for Macy’s and National City Bank just down Queens Boulevard, it is possible that this bank was inspired by its nearby neighbors, completed just the year before. The bank was constructed with a precast concrete exterior while the disengaged roof was held up on interior columns. The interior also included a symmetrical arrangement of teller stations and a Venetian terrazzo floor. The building was demolished in 2004 and the lot is currently empty.