A forward-thinking credit union branch design helps First West achieve enviable financial performance. In June of 2014, the first of the Ratio designed Envision Financial branch concept opened in Chilliwack , BC at Garrison Crossing. With a visionary operational model, First West Credit Union’s investment into a future-focused branch network for their Envision Financial brand paid off with more new members and positive revenue results.

The new Valley First Vernon Branch is the first of a network-wide design solution by RATIO featuring open, engaging branch spaces that promote staff interaction and personal service. Although part of the 40-plus First West Credit Union family, Valley First has a strong local brand and is a vital member of the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson communities. Branch members have a powerful connection to staff and the strength of this relationship is the framework for the branch network design. Our design solution features open, engaging branch spaces that promote staff interaction and personal service. The design platform also introduces subtle aesthetic cues through materials and finishes to acknowledge regional geographic and local demographic differences.

Recently, Business in Vancouver published a story related to the changes that have occurred with BC’s Credit Unions. The dichotomy of growing membership but fewer credit union brands is interesting and presents a challenge. The trend towards mergers in the sector means there are now fewer than 40 credit union brands compared to 1996 when there were around 100. Credit Unions are about community, people and relationships. So, how do Credit Unions keep brand consistency across credit union branches and communities? How does Credit Union branch design support those brand characteristics that set it apart from competitors and deliver on the promise of community support?

At the beginning of 2014, RATIO was launched. Our name is grounded in the importance of relations and relationships in our work. Between a building and its environment. Between citizens and structures. Between our firm and our clients. How do we live and breathe the RATIO story? On every project we bring distinctive thinking, rigorous creativity and a progressive approach.

We share a brief look back at our year….

Recently RATIO was asked by The Financial Brand for perspective on when a financial institution should rebrand. Having worked with some of Canada’s leading credit unions on rebrand strategies where the built environment is integral, RATIO has unique experience to share. The ‘when to rebrand’ question and perspectives offered up in the article are relevant for all businesses — not just FIs — who want to be competitive in their marketplace.

The Credit Union Journal’s Special Report on The ‘branch of the future’ highlights the necessity that credit union branch design must incorporate both high tech and high touch. To illustrate the point, the reporter spoke to Island Savings Credit Union COO, Randy Bertsch and Christopher Pollard, principal, RATIO who described some of the thought behind the Island Savings “branch of the future” concept.

Major upgrades to the Ruskin Generating Station facility will increase operational efficiency, rehabilitate the aging exterior and the addition of numerous ancillary buildings and elements critical to modern operations. RATIO is a working with key stakeholders and BC Hydro on all aspects of the project. This 1930’s Art Deco facility will continue to provide clean, dependable power to British Columbia.

Imagine a venue dedicated to education, stewardship and community engagement in one of the most ecologically diverse parks in the Metro Vancouver region; imagine a new Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre. RATIO designed this unique campus design which will incorporate the existing Bell-Irving Hatchery, a stewardship building and the unique outdoor learning environment offered by Kanaka Creek Regional Park and its ecosystems.

To celebrate 100 years of architecture in British Columbia, the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia is staging the 100 Best Buildings Contest.

This spring BC residents were invited to nominate their favourite building in which to live, work or play. Nominations could be any structure or building in British Columbia that are best-loved, for whatever reason.

Nominations have closed but now it is time for the public to vote for their favourites to make up the Top 100 Buildings. Have your say and vote now. The top 25 will be chosen from each of the four regions. This October judges will determine the top 3 winning buildings from each region.

Envision Financial, under the umbrella of First West Credit Union has opened the door to a new way of banking. It also introduces a fresh, cohesive design concept for the merged credit union network under First West. Their newest branch, at Garrison Crossing in Chilliwack, introduces this new member experience. During the design and planning process RATIO and the First West team re-imagined the credit union from the perspective of its true definition: a cooperative organisation of individuals for a common purpose; and as a key community stakeholder. Design decisions were made based on the client’s very successful brand drivers.