The Banks building in Columbus, GA was built by the W.C. Bradley Co. in 1907 in order to store cotton while being transferred from steam boats on the Chattahoochee river to rail cars heading to textile producers all over the country. The W.C. Bradley Co., which has long refocused its business on consumer goods and real estate, still owns the building and approached us about converting the Banks into a small food hall serving Columbus’s vibrant riverfront. In our initial site visits, we quickly recognized the Banks Building, not unlike the rest of the city’s well-preserved built environment, as a conceptual stratigraphy, composed of layers, with each layer expressing marks made upon it from successive inhabitations. In similar fashion, we envisioned the new food hall program and the architecture that facilitates it to function as yet another layer, neither obscuring the found conditions nor hiding itself within them. A wrap around porch, drawing its architectural language from the industrial vernacular found throughout historic Columbus, is tacked lightly to the exterior of the building creating a generous outdoor dining zone and front porch overlooking the river. Similarly, the narrow alleyway between the Banks and the Whitewater Express building next door is transformed into an intimate dining garden, featuring trees, lounge furniture, games, and an elevated deck which mediates between the loading level finished floor of the building and the lower ground level. We restored all of the original arched openings in the buildings masonry walls and used their found locations to shape circulation and program layout. We also opened the northern façade with six new openings, which are distinct in their trabeated form and more contemporary glazing. The food hall features 11 stalls, new public restroom facilities, and a main bar.
Photography by Blake Burton