Credit Union Transforms Interior Into Open Concept Design

Rockfon Artic acoustic stone wool ceiling panels and Chicago Metallic suspension systems accomplish the aesthetic and functional needs of the project.
Rockfon Artic acoustic stone wool ceiling panels and Chicago Metallic suspension systems accomplish the aesthetic and functional needs of the project.

A credit union in California, Travis Credit Union, serves more than 200,000 members. For nearly 70 years, it has supported the communities surrounding Vacaville, Calif., through financial literacy education, banking products, and friendly employees. With a commitment to its members and their communities, the credit union helps underserved populations to achieve financial wellbeing and to acquaint them with its philosophy of people helping people.

In October of 2016, Travis Credit Union made a decision to embark on a branch transformation project, renovating each of its branches to align members’ banking experiences with the technological trends of today, to modernize the aesthetics, and to standardize its presence with a branding scheme for the retail facet of the organization.

Updated for improved member services and comfort

Travis Credit Union at Vaca Commons, built in 1992, is a 6,000-square-foot, single-story structure with wood-frame construction. This original branch was designed with a more conventional approach to branch banking. The teller line consisted of one long counter with eight transaction windows located around the perimeter of the building interior. Various office and desk clusters were scattered around the remainder of the main floor area.

“Travis Credit Union decided to combine the Branch with Wealth Management because it wanted to utilize square footage unused by the branch to provide the Wealth Management team a home base, where members specifically seeking wealth management services can meet with advisors in a more private office environment,” explains Ken Nagy, Travis Credit Union’s associate vice president for facilities and support services.

The Wealth Management office provides private offices for face-to-face meetings and a large conference room with technology for presentations and video conferencing. Prior to the renovation, wealth management advisors were located within several of the surrounding branches. Travis Credit Union also maintains wealth management advisors in branches that are farther away from Vacaville.

Transformative vision creates ideal impression

Serving as both architect and interior designer, arcINTERIORS worked closely with Travis Credit Union and Sierra View General Contractor to bring its client’s vision to reality. “One of the main goals for the recent branch transformation was to create a branch that was modern in aesthetics, but still provide a sense of comfort and intuitiveness for the members from the moment they first walk into their branch,” says arcINTERIORS Principal Aileen L. Sulzinger, CID, LEED AP ID+C.

Contributing to customers’ and staff’s experience once they entered the space, arcINTERIORS specified Rockfon ceiling products as installed by DK Acoustics Inc. To accomplish both the aesthetic and functional needs of the project, arcINTERIORS selected Rockfon Artic acoustic stone wool ceiling panels and Chicago Metallic suspension systems.

“The versatile Rockfon acoustic stone wool ceiling panels and suspension systems were instrumental in achieving these goals with its sleek, smooth, white modern appearance, and its ability to transition from the suspended acoustical tile ceiling to gypsum board soffits,” describes Sulzinger.

She elaborates, “The suspended acoustical tiles are hung askew to create the illusion of an even more expansive space. The curved designs of the gypsum board soffits are used as way-finding tools as they purposely guide members from the entry and through the perimeter of the branch to all of the different services provided.”

Privacy as a priority, made possible with sound-absorbing ceiling panels

With the new branch transformation’s open concept, Sulzinger emphasizes, “It was imperative to incorporate solutions to mitigate issues of sound transfer and absorption throughout the space. The design team sought solutions to help members have verbal privacy as they conduct their banking tasks. Rockfon acoustic stone wool ceiling panels contributed to the improvement of the acoustics throughout the space with its 0.75 NRC standard sound absorption; a 50 percent increase in noise absorption from the previous ceiling design.”

Further helping to create more comfortable areas throughout the space, the ceiling design in the waiting areas features a circular, low soffit with suspended lighting. The smooth surface and bright white color of the Artic ceiling panels reflects up to 85 percent of light. During the day, natural light from the exterior is reflected throughout the interior, which lessens the need for electrical illumination.

The light reflectance, recycled content and indoor air quality attributes of Rockfon Artic ceiling panels also contributed to the sustainability objectives of the project, according to Sulzinger. “The branch transformation at Vaca Commons exceeded the 2016 California Green Building requirements for construction waste management, sustainable finishes, recycling, building materials, and new mechanical and electrical, including the stringent Title 24 California requirements for lighting and energy consumption.”

She notes that the stone wool ceiling panels have earned the UL Environment GREENGUARD Gold Certification for low-emitting products, a benefit recognized by the State of California’s Department of Public Health Services Standard Practice for Specification.

Supporting worker wellness and safety, installing contractors also appreciate that Rockfon ceiling panels are lightweight and install with ease into the Chicago Metallic ceiling suspension system.

To meet the four-month project timeline, Travis Credit Union temporarily closed its Vacaville branch to allow for a total remodel. With respect to the schedule, Rockfon delivered its products directly to the job site.

“For us, it was a simple install and a typical timeline,” says DK Acoustics’ president, Kurt Kechter. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and we’ve done a lot of work with Sierra View throughout the years. Tight timelines are par for the course.”

The DK Acoustics team was responsible for installing both the 2-by-2 Rockfon Artic ceiling panel system and for hanging the drywall beneath it. Kechter adds, “Rockfon has a great product and the price point is really nice, too. All in all, we really like working with Rockfon.”

Exceptional example serves as successful prototype for other locations

DK Acoustics completed its work in July, and the branch reopened in August 2017. The portion of the building that was completely renovated was 4,484 square feet. The remainder of the 6,000 square foot building was upgraded cosmetically. In addition to the ceilings, all of the mechanical systems, major portions of its electrical systems, and the entire roof were replaced. Accessibility upgrades in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act also were made to the existing site.

The design and renovation of the Travis Credit Union Vaca Commons Branch and Wealth Management office provided a prototype for other locations. Its Atwater Branch office and the Willow Pass/Concord location also feature Rockfon Artic ceiling systems as installed by DK Acoustics, in collaboration with Sierra View and arcINTERIORS.

“Succeeding branch transformations modeled after it, left nothing to chance,” says Sulzinger. “Every aspect of the design, from the accessibility of all member services to the visibility of each marketing piece, was deliberate.”

Reiterating the project’s goals, she notes, “The acoustics of the space was paramount as the credit union moved toward an open concept to encourage cross-function collaboration and marketing opportunities, enhance visibility/security for both members and employees, and accelerate innovation to enhance their members’ banking experience. The success of the design of this project truly was a team effort!”

PHOTOS: Fred Donham, courtesy of Rockfon

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