Call for Photographs: Digital Rescue of the Cocoa Beach Glass Bank

by Katia Chaterji
February 6, 2015
As a result of the American Space Program of the 1960s, the City of Cocoa Beach, Florida underwent significant growth in population and economic gain. With its close proximity to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Patrick Air Force Base and NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach was bustling with space industry employees and others seeking new opportunities in a quickly modernizing world. This entrance into the Space Age had a significant impact on the area’s architecture, incorporating large expanses of glass, visible steel, and concrete.

In Cocoa Beach, the First Federal Savings and Loan Building gave the city a modern skyline for the first time. Constructed in 1961, this building, appropriately nicknamed the “Glass Bank,” clearly evokes the Space-Age era. With the upper level occupied with “Ramon’s Rainbow Room” restaurant, the Glass Bank regularly saw national politicians, astronauts, and Hollywood stars. As the years passed, ownership of the bank structure shifted many hands. A renovation in the early 1980s added a penthouse apartment and altered the building’s façade. Huntington Bank was the last tenant of the structure’s first floor, with an Atlantic Nautilus fitness center occupying the upper floors.

This unique structure has fallen into disarray over the years. Due to hurricane damage in 2004, business within the building ceased. The ensuing battle of asbestos and mold threats led to a multi-year litigation over the property, and January 2015 marked the beginning of its demolition.

While the Glass Bank will no longer mark Cocoa Beach’s skyline, the iconic structure will still be available for the public in more than just memory. Dr. Lori C. Walters, Research Assistant Professor with the Institute for Simulation and Training and Department of History at the University of Central Florida, pioneers the institute’s Virtual Heritage program, encouraging a multi-disciplinary approach towards examining history utilizing the latest digital technology to explore the past. Dr. Walters is heavily involved in 3D laser scanning the Glass Bank to assist in developing an accurate model of the structure at its height in the 1960s. Scans of the exterior have already been completed, and CyArk is working with Dr. Walters to archive the Glass Bank data and share the project on our website!

Dr. Walters seeks to model the building’s interior & exterior, and needs our help to do so! The digital preservation of the Glass Bank has received tremendous applause in the local Cocoa Beach community, but many who lived near the site in the 1960s have since relocated and may not be aware of this 3D revival. If you have memories of the Glass Bank, or have interior or exterior photographs of the structure at its zenith, please contact Dr. Lori Walters by email at or by phone at 407-882-1406.

Also make sure to check out her website, ChronoPoints, for wonderful animations and images of her numerous digital preservation projects throughout the United States!
Postcard of the Glass Bank from the 1960s.
At the time of its 2014 digital documentation, the Glass Bank was in significant disrepair.
Perspective image of the 3D point cloud data of the Glass Bank.