Valley National Banks in Phoenix - Feedback and Urban Lore

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Valley National Banks in Phoenix - Feedback and Urban Lore

Postby PixelPixie » Wed Jun 14, 2006 10:41 pm

This thread is reserved for discussion about Walt's research about the VNB building program, the Hoskin Ryan Consultants rehabilitation of the 2nd Ave and Indian School bank branch, and any urban lore related to VNBs:

Prepare for a long read, or even a printout session. In this landmark cover story we're delivering 4.5 megabytes of images and decades of history all in one sitting.

Thanks for all you've done, Walt, and kudos to Hoskin Ryan Consultants and Jack Black for raising the bar on what can be done for MCM commercial rehab.
Last edited by PixelPixie on Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Jason Hill » Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:39 am

YES!! Thank you...

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Valley National Banks

Postby micrguy » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:42 am

I used to work for a company that had a contract with Bank One and my sales territory was all of the branches from the Biltmore/Arcadia area to downtown and up to the Deer Valley area. So I spent 4 years going into the branches that you have highlighted at least 1-2 times a week. From doing my background research on Bank One when we opend the account, I found out that Bank One had almost 60% of every business banking account in the state. Most of these accounts are from the VNB days, so you could say the the growth of Arizona was fueled by VNB lending money to Arizona companies.

Bank One also provided our company with a list of the branches that were the busiest and that had the largest amount of deposits. The branch at Indian School and Central was about the 4th or 5th largest branch in terms of deposits among over 2000 branches of Bank One in the country. So not only is that branch worth saving due to it's architecture, but also due to the economic impact that branch has had to the growth of Arizona.

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Postby Al Farmer Jr. » Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:33 pm

Well my arm is about to fall off from scrolling through all the wonderful photos and detailed information on Arizona's collection of impressive banks. You can ask Jason Hill, I am a bit of a bank building freak. Thank you Walt for putting this retrospective together.

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VNB project.... not really finished......

Postby WaltLockley » Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:03 pm

Y'all are welcome, of course. (smile). Hope you enjoyed this material.

But I don't think we're done.

It feels funny to say, "you're welcome," because it was just a lot of fun, because it's great to be featured here with Modern Phoenix and have Alison's support and encouragement -- thank you Alison -- and because I hope this turns into an ongoing larger conversation about these VNB banks.

The Tempe geodesic dome is in immediate danger of being 'eaten' (in Scott Jarson's terminology) by ASU. I feel I understand that building completely, documented it pretty well, and I would be sad to see it disappear.

The 44th Street & Camelback branch, on the other hand, is in a class by itself. It's a building worth mobilizing for. Frank Henry, the designer at Weaver and Drover, who now teaches at Taliesin West, was kind enough to talk to me for 90 minutes about this once-in-a-lifetime architectural opportunity of his. I have yet to post his biography and some sound clips from his interview, but I'll try to get to it in the next couple of weeks.

It's a truly significant building from the standpoint of Phoenix history, because Walter Bimson meant for its attached park to be a gift to the citizens of Phoenix -- the original zoning ruling stipulates that -- and meant for it to be populated with John Waddell sculptures. There's a considerable backstory here about civic identity and the PHX artistic community of the time. It's also a truly significant building from an architectural standpoint. With that hung ceiling and those curves, its fully comparable to a John Lautner, and got an AIA 25-year award.

And Mr. Frank Henry himself deserves more intelligent attention, for his own sake, for this particular building and his other work at Weaver and Drover (like the Hayden library at ASU), and because he's a direct link to the Al Beadle generation of Phoenix builders. As a teacher he's a natural explainer and a real resource. He says he has material enough for a book. He only needs some encouragement, somebody to show some interest. If any of you want to help me encourage him, maybe another round of interviews, let me know.

And any other feedback is welcome, of course. I really care about this stuff, and I'm happy that y'all do too.


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Postby JC » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:23 pm

Can't wait to read it all- thanks so much!

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Postby lavardera » Wed Jul 05, 2006 7:36 am

It is so great to see these local gems identified and pushed out into the public consciousness. Well done, all involved!
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Postby PixelPixie » Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:31 pm

Look for more on the topic of the Tempe dome VNB branch in the AZ Republic tomorrow and this weekend. Thanks for the swell representation, Walt! ... 2-ON.html#

On July 12, an ASU Press Agent issued the statement to ModernPhoenix: [i]"The university is exploring options for the development of a new residential facility for the Barrett Honors College, but no decision has been made about the disposition of the VNB building."

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Tempe VNB in Monday's Republic

Postby azpreservation » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:40 am

First Tempe edition, then Ahwatukee edition, now Phoenix edition of the Arizona Republic... ... r0717.html

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Postby PixelPixie » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:49 am

I like the new headline, and you're lookin' mighty great, Walt!

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Postby PixelPixie » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:36 am

I'm curious... how many of you used our boilerplate letter or wrote one of your own to mail any of the contacts we listed in our article?

Have any of you taken any additional action?

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Postby PixelPixie » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:32 pm


And so, a little editorial:

I find it interesting / sad / confusing that more readers here have not responded that they have written to the powers that be?? Especially with a boilerplate letter all ready to modify?

No wonder ASU is still not publicly talking about preservation of the dome. Do you really want to see this beauty go? Have you been down to Tempe to see this site surrounded with new construction?

The Republic story got picked up by the AP, by the way, and will soon be featured on the Recent Past Preservation Network. It is currently on the front page of the ASU Web Devil / State Press

This version of the story is a bit more grim as the truly harsh reality sets in. To my knowledge, ASU has not publicly denied that they plan to raze it.

You may submit a Letter about your concerns to the State Press here:

I am hearing from more and more sources that Phoenix is gaining much higher national profile as a MCM mecca than even we as residents are aware of. From all the relocators that come through this site and through my private mailbox, I believe it. We truly have an opportunity to do something significant as a group here and I would hate for the Tempe Dome to go because not enough was done... us, one of the most organized and active groups concerned about the day-to-day integrity of our own and future MCM homes.

Your letter could be the letter that stops it all.

I invite you to check in here with a note when you have written, or even post your letter here as inspiration.

And of course you do not have to check in... thanks for all you may have done privately in your efforts to raise ASU's awareness of this building's value to our culture and history.
Last edited by PixelPixie on Mon Jul 24, 2006 12:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby meagen » Sun Jul 23, 2006 9:41 am

OK, Alison, thanks for the reminder! I wrote to President Crow and the Council Members. I think we need to live up to the Sun Devil article stating : The 670-member Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network also has started a letter-writing campaign on the building's behalf.

Even if you only have a minute, drop a line to express your opinion.
Alison's right, we have a chance here to do something!!

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Postby Tabletoo » Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:56 pm

Thanks for the reminder. It was really quite quick and easy to send emails to President Crow and the Tempe City council. I used a modified version of your boilerplate letter - Thanks .

To all Tempe City Council members,

I am very concerned about the uncertain future of the former Valley National Bank Building on Apache Boulevard.

This geodesic dome is unique in the city and part of a larger building program that permanently shaped the architectural and financial history of the Phoenix Metro area.

The Phoenix metro area is currently gaining a high national profile as a MCM (mid-century modern) mecca. We can all benefit by helping maintain and build on this image. We will all lose if this building is lost.

Please ensure that ASU and Tempe set a high standard among developers and within the preservation community by creating an active program of preservation for this site.

Let me know what I can do to assist in the preservation of this landmark structure, and please keep me apprised of its status.


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Re: Valley National Banks in Phoenix - Feedback and Urban Lo

Postby » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:07 am

I read with horror the recent piece in the Republic about the impending destruction of the Tempe dome VNB. This was my bank back in the late '70s/early'80s, when I was a professional student at ASU. Many memories of standing in line under that unique "carded" ceiling, waiting to cash a check to get beer money. Sigh.

I was actually planning to make a trip to Tempe with my trusty digital camera, so I could at least get some pics of the building in case it disappears. Thanks to this ModPhx article, I don't have to! Thanks and kudos to Walt.

I get so tired of the mindless propensity in this town for the bulldozing of our past in the name of "progress." I'll be sending off my own version of the boilerplate letter. Couldn't hurt.

Thanks again....


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