Cocoa Beach, Florida
Known to Cocoa Beach residents as the “Glass Bank,” the First Federal Savings & Loan Association building was designed by noted Sarasota School Architect Reginald C. Knight. Opening in 1962, this Mid-Century Modern structure of glass, steel, and concrete stood out on the barrier island community of Cocoa Beach both because of its height and its elegant Space-Age design. While the building underwent significant modification in the early 1980s, it remained a landmark and navigational signpost to Cocoa Beach residents. In late 2014, demolition began on this once breathtaking building.
However, what if the building had not been demolished and had been repurposed? This is the question Savannah College of Art and Design student Erin Keane asked. Repurposing or adaptive reuse is when an underused or abandoned building is redesigned into something that differs from its original design. In this instance, Erin took a bank/office building and turned it into a boutique hotel. This solution reflected the changes that Cocoa Beach had undergone since the early 1960s. Aerospace industries no longer have a significant office presence in Cocoa Beach as they had during the heyday of the Space-Age. The old Apollo building is now a condominium, as is Pan Am’s offices. The Cocoa Beach of today is one where people come to visit to enjoy its expansive beaches, more than a city where an aerospace or supporting industry will have offices.
Adaptive reuse not only permits historic structures to enter a new phase of life, but it is also an environmentally friendly alternative to demolition. When a building is demolished, elements can be recycled, but often the overwhelming majority of the structure becomes landfill. Unfortunately, much of the Cocoa Beach Glass Bank is now resides in a landfill in Brevard County – but Erin’s class project permits us the opportunity to envision what-if?