Using Glass to Maintain Privacy in Open Environments

As office spaces shift to more open environments, a challenge we face is finding ways to incorporate private business areas, such as boardrooms, without closing them off entirely. Oftentimes, the best solution in maintaining privacy in open plans is through the use of glass.

However, what clients often need from these spaces is not only acoustic privacy, but also visual privacy. In these cases, we utilize stylized glass that still provides transparency, but better blinds the views from the outside in. The level of privacy needed, both acoustically and visually, varies based on the corporate culture and industry. Here are 5 unique projects by industry in which we designed with privacy in mind.

1. Commercial Real Estate

Cushman & Wakefield Space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Cushman & Wakefield. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

For global commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield, we chose to use transparent film on glass to sustain visual separation between their general space and meeting rooms. We strategically chose film for this client in order to enhance their strong corporate culture and brand. This specific graphic expresses the company’s global presence and locations. It adds visual interest and allows light from the exterior window within the meeting room to permeate through to the hall beyond, but still makes two spaces feel independent of one another.

2. Renewable Energy Firm

Brookfield Renewable Energy Group. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Brookfield Renewable Energy Group. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Brookfield Renewable Energy Group works to develop and provide life-long renewable power assets with great focus on hydroelectricity. Keeping this corporate objective and innate value of the environment in mind, we chose to use glazing that conjured the image of flowing water to separate one of the board rooms from the reception area. The wall, which sits directly behind the reception desk, provides privacy as well as reinforces the Brookfield brand, while still allowing daylight to reach the welcome area.

3. Law

Sullivan & Worcester, LLP. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Sullivan & Worcester, LLP. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

In more traditional office environments, such as law firms, we see a greater request for visual privacy. Business law firm Sullivan & Worcester wanted meeting areas that would leave their clients feeling secure, but keep their space feeling open and transparent. We therefore chose to install opaque film on the glass walls in the conference area which blocks views, but still allow light and shape to filter through. A thin strip of clear glass adds aesthetic interest and furthers the transparent element of the overall space.

4. Technology


Nvidia. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

The conference rooms in visual computing technologies company Nvidia are situated in the interior of the space.The use of glass walls was necessary in order to allow natural light to reach these areas. To add some privacy, we chose strips of film in a striated pattern that reflect the vibrant graphics we carried throughout the rest of the space. The end result is indicative of the effect of slatted shades, and offers a sense of streamlined movement up and down the internal corridor.

5. Investment Management


Westfield Capital Management. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Westfield Capital Management has the need for both visually open and private meeting areas. We strategically placed an open conference area on the exterior perimeter of the office to let daylight flow through the office corridor and into the interior private meeting areas. We used a gradated opaque film on glass to blur the visibility into these spaces however adding to the depth of privacy.

Taking these five diverse companies, we tailored each method of using glass to create privacy based on their corporate and culture needs. In the end, our fundamental objective was maintaining transparency of light, which we executed successfully in each space.

Written by Isobelle Hemmers
Edited by Scott Kligerman, Senior Associate at Visnick & Caulfield, LEED AP