‘A Partner to the Community’: Bankwell Works with Local Businesses in Designing, Outfitting New Elm Street Headquarters
Laura Waitz, executive vice president and COO at Bankwell, had a vision when the company decided to move its headquarters to New Canaan two years ago.
The largest private employer in New Canaan at 100-plus workers is “a relationship bank,” Waitz, a New Canaan resident, said on a recent morning from the second-floor conference room of Bankwell, located at the corner of Elm and Grove Streets. “It’s all about building relationships in business and for our employees and for the community we work in,” she said. “So when we expanded and brought so many more people to New Canaan it was about being a partner to the community, as well. And that was critically important and I wanted a workplace that was peaceful and serene and didn’t look ‘corporate banking’ but that would provide a welcoming, collaborative environment.”
In designing it, Bankwell—which already donates to more than 200 organizations per year, with focus on children, education, food insecurity, homelessness and financial literacy—hired, contracted and otherwise worked with dozens of New Canaan businesses. The bank’s placid and functional workspace includes conference room pieces handcrafted by New Canaan’s gifted furniture designer maker, Tom Throop of Black Creek Designs, a custom-made 300-gallon aquarium from Randy Jahier of Life Aquatic on Park Street, walls lined with the work of local artist Elena McCoy and photography from CAS Gallery on Elm Street, gardens planted by Gregg’s Garden Center and Landscaping on Grove Street, with year-round outdoor furniture from Against the Grain on Main Street.