While some people think of financial institutions as being a bit stodgy and oldfashioned, one credit union in Chattanooga definitely breaks that mold. Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) is literally breaking the 3D-printing mold! TVFCU hired Branch Technology, an architectural fabricator specializing in construction-scale 3D printing and a TVFCU business member, to build its latest branch.
The result is the first-ever 3D-printed building facade using a patented 3D printing process called Cellular Fabrication, C-Fab® that will be unveiled in mid-February.
“Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Branch Technology when they were located in the INCubator at the Hamilton County Business Development Center,” said Todd Fortner, president and CEO at TVFCU. “I was amazed at what could be made on a large scale with 3D printing. I immediately began to think about how we could incorporate this new technology into a future project.”
TVFCU leaders and its builder for more than 20 years, Construction Consultants, began working with Branch Technology for TVFCU’s new Southside Branch, located at 125 West 20th Street in Chattanooga. While TVFCU has a branch in Downtown Chattanooga, the Southside Branch fills a void in the community for a brick and mortar branch in this urban neighborhood less than two miles from the city center.
Credit union leaders wanted to highlight the characteristics of the Tennessee Valley and to blend into the surroundings of this urban neighborhood for a truly innovative design. Branch Technology immediately went to work developing a design concept for the building’s exterior.
Platt Boyd, the founder of Branch Technology, knew the Tennessee Valley’s scenic beauty. After seeing the Scenic City and competing in a startup accelerator program called GigTank at The Company Lab in summer 2014, he moved his company to Chattanooga with only three employees and one robot. Their first office was at the Hamilton County Business Development Center’s INCubator that is managed by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. Today, they work from a 40,000-square foot manufacturing facility that is equipped with 15 robots.
Branch Technology’s team created a facade design that highlights the beauty of Chattanooga’s natural surroundings and incorporates TVFCU’s iconic wave branding into the design. With the design created, they began 3D printing the structure. Cellular Fabrication, C-Fab® is a unique printing method that allows material to solidify in open space, creating a matrix of polymer in virtually any shape.
John McCabe, advanced concepts team and director of communications at Branch Technology, said, "We bring unprecedented design freedom and resource stewardship to next-generation wall systems. The undulating facade is patterned to identify entrances and expand around the building's curvature, serving as wayfinding for visitors.
“Varying degrees of curvature in the sinuous facade pattern nod to TVFCU's recognizable wave logo. This project is a staple of design freedom offering a one-of-a-kind product outside the literal box of repetitive, conventional construction and facade manufacturing.”
While the finishing touches on the branch exterior will soon be completed, construction will continue on the branch’s interior. TVFCU plans to open the Southside Branch in late spring 2021. The branch will be TVFCU’s 20th branch and will be a full-service branch.
“While our competitors are closing branches, we are opening them,” said Mr. Fortner. “We are constantly looking for better ways to serve our membership. We saw a void in our service area and decided to add a branch.”