WASHINGTON – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has approved a “concept design” for its Washington headquarters.

Walls and doors are being kept to a minimum. The building will feature an open-floor layout with internal stairways connecting floors, a lobby where visitors can “learn about being educated financial consumers,” and few private offices. The design for the offices at 1700 G St. N.W. reflects “the principles of openness and collaboration,” according to an email sent to CFPB staff and obtained by American Banker, an affiliate of Credit Union Journal.

Although there will be private conference rooms and work spaces – about 200 in total for the seven-story building – even CFPB executives will work in “open spaces,” the email says.

Gauging CFPB staff sentiment about the new design was complicated by the holidays. But one employee argued that the timing of the announcement – near the close of business on the Friday before a major holiday – suggested that the bureau expects the plans to be unpopular with employees who were expecting private offices, American Banker reported.

“Things that drop at 5 p.m. on Friday before a holiday are things that people don’t want you to see,” said the CFPB employee, who asked to remain anonymous. “While most of us have been hanging on for the proper offices they’ve been promising, it now seems that they plan for CFPB to be some sort of New Age commune.”

CFPB spokeswoman Michelle Person wrote in an email to American Banker that the redesign would unify all of the CFPB’s Washington staff in one building “in a way that maximizes resources while recognizing the need for private space that can be used when needed.”

Opened in 2010 without an office, the CFPB has worked out of scattered locations over the last couple years. But it inherited the 300,000-square-foot offices of the now-defunct Office of Thrift Supervision and is consolidating its Washington operations there.

The bureau has not yet produced a detailed plan for the office layout. But in its email to employees, the bureau cast its shared-space approach as forward-thinking and cost-effective.

The redesigned headquarters will offer some perks, including a lunchroom, gym, library, conference center, new courtyard and childcare.


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