Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union

The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union is a member-owned, not for profit financial institution dedicated to meeting the financial services and credit needs of local residents, businesses and community organizations.  LES People’s FCU has served more than 20,000 people, reinvested over $56 million back into the community (in the form of loans) mobilized over $30 million in local savings, and expanded access to financial services.

The collaborative team of designers from Bernheimer Architecture and d/b/A design-build transformed an outdated bank facility into a welcoming place for members of the LES People’s FCU and created a more efficient space for their staff of twenty-one to work. The new design made its official debut to the members of the credit union on June 15th 2013 at their annual meeting.

Housed in an early 20th century former bank building that experienced multiple, albeit haphazard, modernizations – the most recent of which took place fifteen years ago – the credit union wanted a proper, well-designed renovation that would retain some of the original space’s historic features and the welcoming character its members have come to appreciate. In essence, they wanted a place that their members and staff could be proud of.

The renovation incorporates several architectural elements that help create a dynamic new look, while making functional improvements in terms of organization, circulation, privacy, and lighting. A new greeter-desk at the entrance to the lobby acts as ‘information central’ where a receptionist can assist members and provide them with various information brochures. New custom built-in benches provide a comfortable place to sit and wait.

The focal point of the new design is a partition made of Corian that provides security and privacy for the back-office area. The partition is slightly transparent and emblazoned with a laser-cut of the credit union’s logo. The cut-outs allows for the flutter of movement to be visible from the lobby area and vice-versa. And to create a unifying effect, a new plane of custom-made bent metal shrouds painted in the credit union’s brand colors, were designed to generate a dynamic and illuminated surface that encases state-of-the-art lighting fixtures and makes the space look more spacious.

2012, green infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization, Projects, social/economic justice