Bold New Visions, Part V

Chelsea Groton Bank gets a facelift
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Posted September 19, 2018

Retail Renovation Competition: First Place
Renovation – Service Retailer
Chelsea Groton Bank, Groton, Conn.
Submitted by: Little, Charlotte, N.C.

Banks have seen a decrease in branch traffic due to increased electronic transactions. Chelsea Groton Bank (Groton, Conn.) sought to combat this trend by rethinking what a bank can do for its customers.

“We found a lot of inspiration from retailers like Apple, Verizon and Williams-Sonoma,” says bank President and CEO Michael Rauh, “where the store [is] a place to learn.”


BEFORE: The space prior to renovation

Along with design firm Little (Charlotte, N.C.), the teams created an intimate banking concept where customers could come for traditional banking needs as well as events and classes, to “bank” on their education incentive. James Farnell, Design Principal, Little, calls it “un-banking the bank.”

“We wanted to provide an uber-flexible space to connect with people and solve their problems,” he says. They went with a design that didn’t rely on the standard bank layout of the customer and teller on opposite sides of a barrier. Instead, designers created opportunities for side-by-side interactions, and spaces inside for more private conversations.


AFTER | Photography: John Spinnato, Waterford, Conn.

Little faced the challenge of having big ideas for a smaller space. “We were trying to get a lot of fun stuff in the branch, but we had space restraints,” says Nancy Everhart, Partner and Service Retail Studio Principal, Little. “Chelsea Groton allowed us to extend the front of the building outward to have a nice, large lobby and to open the branch with a lot glass. It helped the space tremendously.”


AFTER | Photography: John Spinnato, Waterford, Conn.

The end result wowed the VMSD competition judges. “Banks, and service retail, are challenging,” says judge Mari Miura, Interior Design Director, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati), “through communicating information and merchandising, they gave theirs a home.”

To learn more about this year's Retail Renovation Competition winners and honorable mentions, be sure to check vmsd.com throughout the month of September.

To read Bold New Visions, Part I, click here.
To read Bold New Visions, Part II, click here.
To read Bold New Visions, Part III, click here.
To read Bold New Visions, Part IV, click here.