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I stopped at my bank today (the big white Bank One on Mattis) and noticed a few pleasing things about the building’s internals:

  1. Most banks have a desk with pens and deposit/withdrawal slips accessible before you get to the tellers, to allow a sort of pipelining. In this bank, the desk was in the atrium and stood out as the only bankish piece of furniture.
  2. Benches in the atrium promoted it as a place of waiting.
  3. The semicircular customer service desk had the first person I saw, and the smooth shape I think is inviting.
  4. The tellers are in a zig-zag row /\/\/\/\ instead of all in a line ——. This gives each teller and each patron a bit of a cubbyhole without requiring walls between tellers, so the space still appears open from a distance. The cabinets behind the tellers are also zig-zag, giving them a sense of partitioning and further highlighting the entire teller area as “different” from the rest of the internal space.
  5. The private rooms for the higher-level bankers are all partitioned by some sort of dark frameless glass, which increases the overall feeling of openness. A few of these glass walls were not at right angles, breaking up the regularity of the floor plan (more natural, less sterile).

I probably put way too much thought into that as a patron, but the openness and “craggyness” (for lack of a better word, the opposite of axis-aligned rectangles) definitely made me feel more comfortable.

When I was at Lockheed-Martin, we (the interns) always joked about painting the hallways bright colors. Every building in their campus was very regular, with axis-aligned rectangles and off-white undecorated walls. The few decorations that existed were very corporate in nature – awards, project posters, and motivational crap. Of course, the culture there was very similar to their buildings, and I must assume that there is some interrelation; they must like the boring walls, the “lowest common denominator” that could not possibly offend anyone, but could definitely kill souls.