One Expert Offers Practical Advice For Making Over Your Facility

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Editor's Note: Because many of the credit unions that submitted their facilities for an Extreme Makeover share common characteristics, Robert Saunders of RW Saunders, LLC, a design/build consultancy, offered these thoughts, below.

Obviously, the space available for the client's retail and operations areas is extremely limited in all of these cases, with the exception of Colorado Central CU. However, investing time with an architect in order to review the optimization of the existing space, in terms of workflow and member interaction, is recommended to all of these credit unions.

Advances in design technology allow us to effectively project the design of our client's space in three dimensions, including "virtual walk-throughs." This is extremely important in the early stages of a renovation program, as most people cannot interpret the design from a flat line drawing.

When commissioning a firm to provide space planning and design services, we strongly recommend that 3D images be included as a part of the services.

Of equal importance during this review, would be the projection of future growth opportunities, which might lead to the location of a more useable and productive space, as Metro Employees CU has apparently done. In the interim, in order for the makeover to improve the "look and feel" of the spaces, we suggest the following:

Find an offsite location in order to store records and files, which do not require frequent access. Organize your staff to perform a "clean sweep" of the space.

Review the condition and function of the existing furniture, as most of the spaces appear to be limited to the use of an "open plan." Today's system furniture will provide the essential equipment for organizing the personal workspaces of your staff.

Explore the use of built-ins and fabricated casework in order to conceal equipment, files and supplies.

Install an updated ceiling system, in order to properly define the volume of the space. Sound control will also be improved.

Install a quality lighting system, in terms of both task lighting and accent lighting. Not only will this improve the visual appearance of the space, the staff will benefit from the improvements to their work area as well.

Improve the color and the texture of the interior finishes.

Changes in paint, wallcovering and floorcovering will make a significant difference in projecting your new image to both the members and the staff.

Environmental graphics appear to be lacking. Several firms' market stock images and units, which are geared specifically for the credit union market.

Signage, and in some cases artwork, are effective means by which to market your services to the membership.

Security improvements require that we limit visual access to cash handling, which appears to be an issue in some of the photos. There is also a concern that limited visibility of the lobbies' present opportunities for perpetrators as well. Invest in a quality security system, which employs current technology such as digital cameras and a digital image-recording device.

Make visitors to the lobby aware that you have a system in place as well.

Best wishes to your continued success. We hope that these simple ideas get your creative juices flowing!

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