ESB Financial

Emporia, Kansas

ESB Financial (ESB) is a fourth-generation, family-owned bank that has been serving the state of Kansas since the late 1800s. They are proud of their rich history and their deep connection to the communities they serve. Their center of operations, based in their Emporia building, no longer fully expressed their brand and culture. Through the years, ESB added onto the building as they grew and needed more space, without giving thought to the building’s functionality. This created many inefficiencies and structural issues. Additionally, the FDIC requires clear boundaries between an investment center and the bank lobby, which ESB did not have. A change was needed for not only the integrity of the structure, but more importantly, ESB needed a new physical environment that expressed their brand to their customers and their community.


NewGround helped ESB with a future staffing program to provide guidance regarding the amount of space the bank would need long-term, and how that space would serve the various departments housed there.


The NewGround design team conducted a design study to determine the actual amount of space in the building compared to the number of workstations. The study discovered that the building was so inefficient that in its current layout, they could not add additional offices. However, with a major renovation, NewGround could accommodate the bank’s long-term staffing demands so they could stay in the building for many years in the future. Many issues needed to be addressed during the design development phase: the commercial drive-up lanes needed to be relocated adjacent to the retail drive-up lanes, a long time underground water table issue required a hydrology study and corrective work to resolve, departmental adjacencies and locations needed to be determined, and structural issues stemming from the multiple additions over the years needed to be corrected.

The environmental design presented challenges as well because the bank wanted to feel modern, but did not want to lose their sense of heritage. To solve this issue, the designers were able to incorporate historical photos and artifacts into the modern design seamlessly n. Emporia is located in the Flint Hills of Kansas, and that played a significant role in the inspiration for the design. The President of ESB loved the bright colors of nature and wanted the inside of the building to feel connected to the surrounding landscape. Photographs from the local area cover large sections of the walls, and the applied window film on the glass office walls was shaped so that it feels as if you are walking through the hills as you stroll down the hallway.


An essential element of the build stage was to create various phases for the project. The bank needed to remain operational throughout the renovation, and have as little impact on employees and customers as possible. As with any renovation, there were some hidden challenges during the process. The basement was able to be waterproofed, the roof was repaired, integrated lighting was installed, and the structural inefficiencies were resolved. The NewGround project management team worked diligently to complete the project on time, and ESB is thrilled with the outcome.

People come in and say, ‘WOW!’ I don’t think you could have a happier client than us.” -Karen Sommers, fourth-generation owner and VP of Marketing


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