For more than 150 years, First Horizon Bank has demonstrated a deep commitment to the citizens and communities they serve. A regional relationship bank, the financial services brand boasts locations in Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In 2020, First Horizon Bank teamed up with IBERIABANK – a like-minded partner with shared passion for relationship-building – to spur even wider expansion into IBERIABANK's service markets of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Once finalized, the merger creates of one of the largest banks in the Southeast.
A First Horizon Bank branch prototype location in the heart of Miami’s business district was in the midst of a planned transformation – already designed with construction set to begin – when news of the merger of equals came through. The Brickell Avenue branch was being established as a flagship location for First Horizon Bank, a prototype that redefines how the bank delivers their business in Miami. With an ambitious goal of capturing primary deposit market share from nearby competitor financial institutions, the bank’s design challenges the status quo of banking.
From design through to construction, Adrenaline provided turnkey services delivering on First Horizon Bank's vision for a high-energy, modern community beacon where people are encouraged to engage and connect. The branch was designed to deliver services with the Brickell area businesses and people in mind and welcomes in customers from a nearby merger-driven branch closure. The location would be primarily focused on community connection and collaboration and providing a presence where moments of engagement and experiences matter the most.
This unique, new type of banking experience connects all parts of the bank internally, so bankers are empowered to engage with clients on a journey as they build their financial futures. This space was created to attract more affluent consumer and commercial clients, and most especially, invite in professionals from the surrounding high-rises into the branch. As originally designed, transactions were a secondary concern. However, post-merger, the branch would need to serve as a receiver branch from IBERIABANK, an institution with a more established presence in Florida markets, facilitating a significant late change in design needing to be brought in a seamless way to look like it was always intended.
After robust experience planning and development sessions, Adrenaline was set to design and deliver a full bank that connects First Horizon Bank to the Miami community. Adrenaline's deep and long prior history with the bank gave us the unique ability to work across different business units and intuitively understand everything the client was solving for, especially through their reorganization and merger. With their new prototype branch, First Horizon Bank wanted an experience that transcends transactions and a branch that becomes a destination.
This new business model is devoted to personalized customer service and solutions that transform how branch staff collaborate and connect with customers, prospects and the community – forming a deeper relationship as people shape their future. The in-person experience becomes a magnet for making new connections and gathering and guidance, bringing people together to listen, teach, recommend, and celebrate with powerful financial tools at the ready. To meet the varying functions inside the branch, the space needed to be scalable and reconfigurable, to accommodate needs from one-on-one education and consultation to larger groups and events.
Defining the use case of space and crafting appropriate zones for interactions within the branch was mission critical. These spaces needed to be upscale and flexible with built-in functionality for different uses. Most of all, they needed to be identifiable as exclusive to First Horizon Bank. Ranging from casual to formal and public to private, the branch expands upon concepts of how people interact. Creating spaces for different types of conversations and meeting clients where they were most comfortable was a primary objective.
The branch as a community connection hub was a new concept for First Horizon Bank. It’s a distinctive way to serve customers who come in seeking consultation who will come in to have more casual, collaborative conversations with their banker. It’s a place for the bank to provide high-level consultative services in a modern, comfortable environment. Reimagining engagements to drive more meaningful human connections, the branch also needed to provide a variety of services beyond typical advice and consultative engagements.
Once the merger was announced mid-summer, new stakeholders were influencing design decisions. The space would need to address these shifting priorities, since the branch would now reside in IBERIABANK’s footprint, a bank with a different business model and market presence. When the branch was initially designed, customers cashing checks was not a primary function. Certainly, the bank could process discreet transactions, but those routine banking activities were not an upfront focus for this experiential branch. Once the merger occurred, however, First Horizon Bank alerted Adrenaline’s team that this branch would also become a receiver branch for a closing IBERIABANK location nearby, prompting the need to serve these customers through implementing a teller line as a mid-stream infusion.
A space not initially focused on transactional function now needed to seamlessly integrate them while not interrupting the space’s flow. Adrenaline accomplished this by developing a beautiful and functional design that ensured this change appeared intentional. The most logical space for these transactions would be upfront as a more visible part of the branch without taking away from the movement inside. The resulting design took what was a late breaking pivot and delivered quite a dynamic focal point immediately upon entry.
Working with First Horizon Bank and now IBERIABANK, Adrenaline successfully aligned visions for the prototype branch from the initial strategy through the merger. Instead of a net new space where the bank would hire new staff, this branch would instead bring in existing staff and accommodate more retail banking customer needs, while still fulfilling First Horizon Bank's initial vision of the branch prototype.
The design embraced a new visual identity for First Horizon Bank's Florida flagship from its prior aesthetic. Some early concept mood boards and experiential concepts helped define the right feel for a space that would speak to influencers in the community. Through Adrenaline’s experience planning sessions, we developed visual advances like elevated finishes, multifunctional furniture, custom millwork, and unique ceiling and lighting features, along with other design elements to make the brand shine in the physical environment and feel custom-made for this market.
In terms of design decisions, elevating and focusing on hosting as the primary zone was a huge experiential concept shift First Horizon Bank embraced for the branch. Further, the design team had a distinct focus on mobility for staff to meet consumers where they are for any type of conversation. Staff members also needed technical ability for video engagements, bringing in virtual participants as needed into these consultations. The environment was designed to be tech-enabled, but not tech-focused, with future functionality that could migrate some of the direct transactions out of the branch at a later date.
With this kind of technology implemented throughout the space, the design addressed needed flexibility with floor power outlets, powered furniture systems and WiFi. Leveraging technology allowed staff to be detethered from a work station and completely mobile to facilitate in-branch or outbound engagements. Staff members could use technology in the space to share information in more efficient ways, be it projection, shared screen or digital transfer. Post-merger, the technical needs got even more complex with every workstation having to operate both IBERIABANK and First Horizon Bank technology simultaneously.
Any construction project during 2020 had distinct COVID challenges, and this build was no different. Adrenaline experienced permitting and inspection delays up to two times longer than initially planned for, resulting in the need to dual-track and shift schedules to keep construction moving forward. The implementation required constant communications and coordination to keep materials on track, along with risk identification and mitigation to prevent delays from affecting our phasing. Virtual walkthroughs had to be coordinated through different IT departments, since people couldn’t travel and decision-makers were located in different parts of Tennessee and Florida. Adrenaline answered the call by leveraging our proprietary AMP gateway technology, a wholistic asset management platform, to facilitate coordination with multiple stakeholder locations.
With the need for new functionality introduced in June for a design that was already completed in April, the new design needed to affect as little change to the rest of the floor plan as possible, since construction was already underway. This required the implementation team to simultaneously address these changes in phasing to push the project forward while the redesign was happening. Despite requiring a quick pivot, installation of retail banking didn’t manifestly change the rest of the design or functionality in the space. Placing teller pods upfront, the new addition of a transaction area was seamless and intentional. It’s a detailed and gorgeous design that was turned and incorporated in a very short amount of time.
First Horizon Bank had high expectations for its destination branch in Miami. With aggressive volume and market share goals following the opening, the new merger would bring in key sales making up a significant portion of branch goals upon opening, which is why the pivot became so critical. From the earliest design phase through construction, Adrenaline shepherded the project through needed modifications through a customized and responsive phasing plan which enabled the team to manage multiple workstreams in design and ongoing construction.
Seamlessly and with little schedule interruption, Adrenaline delivered the branch on time and 15% under budget, even with tightened COVID protocols, a massive merger and a significant last minute operational and programmatic change in design. Opening on November 2, leaders across the (newly merged) organization are wowed by the branch and its potential. While not currently able to take advantage of all of the benefits the branch brings because of the pandemic, First Horizon Bank is now in the perfect position in Miami with the post-pandemic recovery underway.