Valley National Bank (Tempe)

Valley National Bank served the Valley from its founding in 1900 through 1992. During this time, the Bank's iconic logo was a common sight throughout the Valley and its branches often had iconic architectural design. The Tempe branch was located at the corner of Apache and Rural and was constructed in 1962 by local architects Weaver & Drover. Many people remember this particular location for the unique design of the building’s roof: a gold geodesic dome that was designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. This design by the Valley National Bank was a response to changing architectural trends in the Phoenix Metro Area. The bank sought to adopt a retail image centered on consumer services. The location on Apache Boulevard also adopted many new strategies to become a successful bank.
Progression of automobile culture in the mid 20th century set the path for some of these strategies used by the Valley National Bank. the bank's location was important to its success, by being located on the corner of Apache Boulevard and Rural Road it allowed easy access for automobiles. This easy access right off of the road was an uncommon feature in most urban banks at the time. Another innovation resulting from the expansive automotive culture of the middle 20th century was the introduction of television bank tellers. The television tellers made it easy for customers to turn off of Apache Boulevard or Rural Road into the bank’s parking lot and complete their banking business without the need to get out of the car. Valley National Bank was very successful and opened several other branches in the Tempe area. However, in the early 1990s Valley National Bank was purchased by BankOne and the branch located on Apache Boulevard was transformed into a visitor center for Arizona State University. The bank building continued to be used by ASU for the next two decades. In 2007 the university began construction of the Hassayampa Academic Village on the site of the Valley National branch. The plan to demolish the Valley National Bank inspired the local community, with the help of historical preservationists, to fight to try to save the bank from the wrecking ball. The unique geodesic dome had become a well known and popular landmark in Tempe. After a strong fight by the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission, the building was ultimately deemed unsalvageable but the university did made an attempt to save the famous golden dome. The dome was relocated across the street from the original site at the student housing complex Vista Del Sol and is now used as a cover for a ramada. The relocation of the dome was considered by the university as a way of preserving the popular building . However, some might argue that it was not a complete preservation of the bank branch and diminished the uniqueness of the geodesic dome.

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