Balancing Open Design And Acoustic Privacy

See how a renovated bank enhanced its acoustic privacy with sliding doors.

By Tysen Gannon
From the December 2022 Issue

For over a decade, the team members at Peoples Bank in Munster, IN, worked in two outmoded buildings. When the organization welcomed a new president, it decided to reinvigorate the work environment by updating its offices. To do this, Peoples Bank planned a four-phase renovation, which included revamping the first and second floors as well as the lower-level of their main five-story building to be a modern office that supported collaboration, community, and transparency. The renovation also sought to maximize the useable square footage within the building.

With the design goals set, Shive-Hattery, Inc., the project’s architectural firm, started developing an open floor plan to use space efficiently and provide Peoples Bank with an office that allowed team members to easily connect and problem-solve together. However, a completely open office posed a couple of logistic issues for bank operations. In addition to a collaborative environment, the space needed acoustically isolated areas for both concentrated independent work and to afford a level of confidentiality for customers discussing financial matters.

Acoustic Privacy
Sliding doors contribute to acoustically isolated meeting areas. (Photo: AD Systems and Shive Hattery Inc.)

To help balance communal spaces with more private rooms, the firm looked to one architectural element—interior full-lite sliding doors with transparent sidelites. Because these doors eliminate swing arc trajectories, they contribute to the efficient use of space. The interior sliding doors Shive-Hattery specified have perimeter and drop-down seals that offer premium acoustic performance—giving team members and customers privacy when needed. While the doors helped create semi-private spaces, their ability to incorporate large glazing areas supported a floor design focused on transparency. Even when the doors are closed, employees can still be connected visually.

The interior sliding doors realize the ideal intersection between an open workspace and a more traditional setup; a quandary many facility executives have pondered as they rethink how their buildings can improve productivity while attracting and retaining top talent.

Space-Saving Design

Offices can boost employee productivity and retention by creating an appealing space. As sliding doors can reclaim up to 30 sq. ft. (usually taken up by swing arc trajectories) they help offices maximize their useable space. This allows for larger desks and contributes to an easy-to-navigate floorplan for staff and customers alike.

Further, sliding doors are available with sleek and impact-resistant aluminum frames that exude functionality and style. Not only does the system’s sturdy frame protect the door’s top-hung rollers and the wall, but it also elevates the office design, providing crisp and minimal lines. Likewise, the large lites of glass in the doors and sidelites modernize the office by making the rooms feel larger while promoting visual connection between semi-private and communal areas. At Peoples Bank, this option also allowed the accent walls within the smaller rooms to be seen throughout the office, creating a brighter, more visually appealing design.