Niagara Credit Union
Virgil, Ontario - 2001
The new banking centre at Virgil stands on a site that acts as the gateway to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The context demanded a sensitive response: the project must conserve the extraordinary historic character of the area and enhance the fragile balance of surrounding agricultural lands, while accommodating the forward-thinking Credit Union and the towns vital need for strong commerce and new development.
The new building stands close to Virgil's major street and reinforces pedestrian footpaths and surrounding landscape. This siting invites future developments in the town to join in this traditional main street approach, restoring a lively community of shop fronts lining the sidewalk. Natural stone from the Niagara escarpment will clad the building, giving enduring qualities rooted in the region. A front verandah and tree-like canopies lining outdoor walkways create a generous streetscape, while a rose garden at the entry serves as a permanent reminder of the nursery that stood on this site for many years.
The heart of the building is a light-filled great hall flanked by tall, branching timber columns that speak to the substantial feeling of the exterior. The interior has been designed, following extensive consultation with a wide range of Credit Union members and staff, to act as a friendly town square lined by a variety of services and amenities. Reinforcing personal relationships with members of the Credit Union, the offices of personal financial advisors, commercial officers and banking assistants have all been situated to look directly into the space. On the second level, glass-fronted spaces for other professional offices also overlook the hall. On winter evenings, warm light from within will make the building an inviting beacon on the street.