For this week's Throwback Thursday we visit December, 1966 for the grand opening of the Epstein designed and engineered 12-story Valley Fidelity Bank Building in Knoxville, Tennessee. This commercial office and banking building, located at corners of Clinch and Market Streets, served as the headquarters for Valley Fidelity as well as a variety of other corporate tenants. This modernist building was sheathed in aluminum and glass and also featured locally sourced sandstone.
Developed by New York developers Collins Tuttle & Company, the same developers for one of Epstein's most famous buildings, the 41-story Smurfit-Stone Container Building in Chicago, the Valley Fidelity Bank served as Valley's HQ until 1991 when it was purchased by US Bank.
This building still stands and the pedestal portion remains relatively unchanged from our original design. Sadly, the tower has had some cosmetic rework which includes eliminating the simple, yet elegant, minimalist clear glass façade with pronounced mullions with a non-descript seamless reflective glass.
As an interesting side note to this building – we also found in our archives an early conceptual rendering for Valley Fidelity that had a much more Brutalist concept featuring concrete and thin multi-story window blocks. We believe we made the right call going with the more Miesian tower, but who knows maybe if this other Epstein scheme had gotten fully developed & included a similar 'hulking' base in full it could have been a Brutalist masterpiece like Marcel Breuer & Associates Pirelli Tire Building in New Haven, Connecticut. Ok, maybe were getting a little ahead of ourselves on that comparison, but you need to dream big, right?