By Albert J. Vegter, AIA, President of Daniels and Zermack Associates, Inc.
Proper site planning is crucial in creating highly functional site arrangements that result in maximum convenience and safety for your customers. High-quality site design is among the many areas of special expertise Daniels and Zermack can bring to a project. Over the years we have designed hundreds of sites, each unique to its specific site requirements.
Three major design constraints confront the site designer: the shape of the property, traffic flow past the site, and the location of the drive-up.
Placement of the building on the site affects access and visibility, and for a commercial establishment like a financial institution, maximizing visibility from the roadway is usually a high priority. You want your customers and potential customers to know where you are. On the other hand, access needs to be as easy and safe as possible, given the constraints of traffic conditions and the governing road authorities.
Some of the more interesting site problems are encountered when placing the building in the outer lot of a shopping center, where the access is from the internal roadway system, but the primary visibility is from the external roadway. It may be desirable to create a structure that has its primary front facing the parking lot of the shopping center and its internal access road, but with a secondary "front" at the drive-up facing the major roadway. A high structure, lighting, signage, and logos can all add to the street presence of the building even though it is the drive-up end.
Parking areas will have to meet the planning criteria of the local planning agency and their zoning ordinance. These will specify minimum (and sometimes maximum) numbers of spaces required for the size of building being served, minimum dimensions and shape of the individual parking spaces, and minimum widths of access drives. Code requirements will also indicate numbers and placement of handicap-accessible parking spaces.
The layout of the parking lot needs to provide the maximum number of spaces convenient for customers without requiring them to cross drive-up lanes or fast-moving traffic. The location of parking spaces for staff is less of a problem, as they move less during the day, are familiar with the driving patterns, and can park farther from the building.
All drive-up traffic should be consolidated in one simple, easy-to-visualize area with sufficient stacking distance so that waiting drive-up customers will not interfere with walk-in customers. The regular parking area should not have to exit through the drive-up area.
A complicating factor may be the placement of a drive-up ATM. These units can be effectively located through the wall of the building in the first lane, on an island in the farthest lane, or through the wall of the building on a different side of the building. In that case, keeping the two traffic flows and stacking areas separated can be a challenge. A consideration for locating the ATM is the need for access to it late at night. Users will feel more comfortable if the location is open and visible and the path to the unit can be easily seen.
Local traffic authorities such as the city engineer or the state highway department will have an impact on the location and width of drive entrances, since their approval is almost always needed before construction is allowed. Since their objectives are not necessarily the same as the financial institution's goals, they may resist allowing access drives at places or on roads that you desire. We feel it is helpful to have experienced financial facility planners who can provide illustrated explanations of how the traffic patterns will function within the site and in the entering and exiting from the site to the roadways.
The location of parking areas, drive-up facilities, ATM units, and night depositories are all part of the design problem to be solved by the experienced financial facility planners of Daniels and Zermack. Proper planning is essential if costly mistakes are to be avoided under the pressures of providing for immediate needs.
The crucial area of site planning is one of the ways that Daniels and Zermack can bring its special expertise to create a better, more useful facility for your financial institution:
Contact Daniels and Zermack at 800-999-2090 for further information.