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?
ABOUT ERIN KEANE’S PROJECT
Erin is a May 2020 graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and a minor in Sustainable Design. Erin’s design interests include hospitality as well as high-end residential projects. She began her career in Interior Design during her pre-college years by assisting with the design of her family and friends’ renovation projects. Her love for sustainability started even earlier by growing up in Florida and with her deep love for nature and the environment. For her senior capstone project, Erin chose to focus on her hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, and shine a light on the fascinating history of this small little beach town.
Erin accomplished this through the adaptive reuse of a formerly abandoned bank building that had been ultimately demolished. The famous Glass Bank in Cocoa Beach was her building of choice. She re-created the Glass Bank (Hotel) by using state-of-the-art design software tools such as Revit, Illustrator, and InDesign. This was an arduous process requiring patience and extreme attention to detail.
Erin thought, “what better building could exhibit a retro-futurism style then Glass Bank,” which was originally built in 1961. For the interior design of the space, she made it a point to incorporate forms that are often seen throughout Googie Architecture. Erin designed this all-suite, niche hotel in this iconic midcentury building that provides an immersive experience and recalls America’s “Space Race” for use by both locals and travelers.
Her concept for the design of the Glass Bank is based on the word “vessel.” Vessel, both in a literal sense as a container and a transformative sense or a means of conveying another realm. The design offers unique spatial experiences for users throughout the public areas and guestrooms and provides a means for both history and future to coexist in balance. The Glass Bank, an architectural link to the Space Age and the optimism of the early 1960s, provides a foundation for both endless economic and design opportunities for Cocoa Beach, FL.
(Project overview provided by Erin)
Please be advised that all images are the property of Erin Keane. ChronoPoints would like to thank Erin for permission to post her images.