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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Eagle Rock bank opens with window seats to comply with design rules

The newly opened Eagle Rock branch of Chase Bank features pairs of comfy blue chairs set behind large new windows that look out upon the corner of Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevard.  But it’s not clear when and if anyone will – or would want to – sit in those  chairs. That’s because the chairs and coffee tables are wedged into a pair of narrow, hallway-like rooms, with the chairs set in front of wall-sized  photos of smiling people and only inches a way from the walls of glass. No one in the bank, a former Blockbuster Video store, can see out through the windows and passersby only get a view of those blue chairs and wall-sized photos.  A bank employee said he does not expect anyone to ever be offered to sit in those chairs, which can be reached only by walking down some long hallways behind the teller windows. Why install large windows and create what looks like a fake lobby? Call it creative window dressing.

The April issue of The Eagle Rock Assoc. newsletter explains that the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan, a set of guidelines that applies to new construction and renovation, requires that at least 60% of any first-story wall near Colorado and Eagle Rock boulevard must consist of transparent windows, doors and other openings that “offer views into retail, office or lobby space.”   Such guidelines have been adopted elsewhere to create a more interesting and inviting environment for pedestrians to walk by instead of being confronted by blank walls.

In order to comply with those guidelines, Chase  installed the new windows that would, under an original plan, only offer a view of changing Chase bank ads slapped on a wall instead of a lobby or retail space.  After community residents threatened to appeal the original plan to the city, Chase  agreed to make to make some changes. But instead of moving the lobby closer to the street, Chase decided to get into the window dressing business, creating a faux lobby or meeting room  next to the windows, apparently in an effort to give passersby something else to look at besides an advertisement. Said the TERA news letter:

By furnishing one of the front visible areas as a modest meeting room, at this point in the development process, it represents a reasonable effort by Chase to hear the voice of the community and respond. TERA wishes Chase Bank all good fortune in their new location and greatly appreciates the improved appearance of the structure.

The building does look better with windows. But what good are windows that don’t offer a view of anything?

Related Link:

  • New branch of Chase Bank to open on Colorado Boulevard on Monday. Patch


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17 comments

  1. I think the point of something like this is to have the option for the building to become something else for many different types of businesses that may occupy the site in years to come. A lot of old bank buildings are being re-used in perfectly acceptable ways because the original bank buildings were built in a way that this was relatively easy to do. Modern buildings of the stucco and 2×4 type are one-use wonders that blight the neighborhood after the first rain leaves a streak of soot running down the edges. At least we get a kinda sorta multi-use building, like totally, for sure. Whatever.

  2. Given how useless the space is, perhaps it could be used to display art, or have mannequins in a faux-meeting, or display pictures of the former building that was there. It could still be a “modest meeting room” but a more visually interesting one at that.

  3. It’s a shame that they could’t design this to actually use the windows and natural light as part of the bank

    That said, I remember this building before it was Blockbuster, back when it used to be a branch of Security Pacific Bank. The building was always bunker-like, closed-off from the street, and very dark inside.

  4. they should do art installations from local artists including live interactive shows.

  5. @lisa: Thanks for that.

  6. In defense of Chase Bank it should be noted that the Los Angeles Planning Department did give Chase approval to proceed with the windows and no view. When the Planning Dept. Representative was asked to explain how she arrived at the conclusion that these windows, looking into a solid wall, complied with the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan, the representative shared an interpretation of the Specific Plan with which neither the Design Review Board nor I agree. Efforts are on-going to preclude a repeat.

  7. Michael Anderson

    I suspect there were no designers on the board for design review, only reviewers … did the bank meet the guidelines for the Specific Plan? Yes. Did a designer review the bank’s proposal to meet the intent or spirit of the Plan? My guess: No, not from the looks of it.

  8. The room that does have a view is the employee lounge, which is right near the main entrance. Kinda weird, in my opinion.

  9. Chase Bank? Why is Eagle Rock always missing out on meaningful development along the Colorado freeway that runs through our community?

  10. I’ve never seen a bank with so much glass. Probably because most people want a little privacy when doing their banking. Also, all that glass doesn’t make one feel very safe. So those two blue chairs are supposed to give passersby something interesting to gawk at ?
    The whole thing just seems stupid . Am I missing the point or what?

  11. This is why these types of ordinances are stupid. This is a complete waste caused by people that don’t understand what it takes to design a building. Unintended consequences, how do they work?

  12. This is a common design theme in most Chase Banks I’ve seen in New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas. Probably meant to look “homey” or comfortable to passers-by.

  13. livesinsilverlake

    it would be perfect for performance art. instead of hanging shitty art, you support local artists doing shitty performance art. everybody wins

  14. This non-offensive compromise isn’t perfect, but what is? Colorado Blvd is better for it. I’m no fan of Big Banks either, but at least they made an effort to work with the community. Besides, think of what could’ve easily gone in this space: another gas station, a McDonald’s, another freaking MMA/Karate studio or auto repair place. And good riddance to Blockbuster, which was as depressing to look at as it was to patronize.

  15. Why would I put my money with a bank that flaunts the law to get around a neighborhood’s building codes? Banksters.

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