Preservation Magazine, Fall 2017

Before and After: A Retro Bank Becomes A Modern Office Space in Phoenix

Cuningham Group offices

photo by: CAPSPHOTO International

When the architects and designers at Cuningham Group Architecture were looking for a new location for their Phoenix office, something about the midcentury Farmers & Stockmens Bank building east of the city’s downtown clicked. “It just called to us,” says Nabil Abou-Haidar, a principal with the firm.

The 6,000-square-foot bank building was designed in 1951 by Los Angeles–based architects William Pereira and Charles Luckman. It featured glass curtain walls, a flat roof, stone floors, and a large, cylindrical vault made of desert stone. But its streamlined facade had been diminished over time, as some of its windows were replaced by stucco panels. It last functioned as a Bank of America branch, before closing in 2012.

The following year, local general-contracting company Jokake Construction bought the building, received a grant from the city to restore the exterior, and immediately set to work removing the stucco panels. The bank was added to the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2014. In 2016, Cuningham Group Architecture began interior renovations.

Farmers & Stockmens Bank

photo by: Julius Shulman/J. Paul Getty Trust

The original interior of the Farmers & Stockmens Bank in Phoenix.

The open layout was perfect for the architects. They highlighted its original elements, such as steel support columns, and turned the vault and the second-floor mezzanine into conference rooms. And they added variable-height work stations, Midcentury Modern–style furnishings, and a living green wall along the back of the space.

The firm moved in late last year. Says Abou-Haidar, “It’s inspiring to work in such a significant building.”

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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