..."Unlike the other freaks on here, I do NOT like a work environment where I have zero privacy, where I get distracted every time someone walks by or a big crowd gathers around a neighboring engineer and has a loud conversation, and where I can't have a private phone conversation without everyone in my group hearing every word I say."
I generally agree -- over several decades, most of my projects were implemented by small groups, where personal space is important. Much to my surprise, however, I found that a group room worked very well on one large project. Mind you, the reason it worked may have been project specific, but for what it's worth:
It was a big integration project, with both infrastructure and application people needing immediate problem resolution -- about 30 developers total. We set up a LARGE conference room with a U of tables around three sides. There were a couple of tables in the front for meeting leaders (for the infrequent meetings and conference calls) and, just as importantly, extra stragglers.
The groups arranged themselves informally around the U, with related team members close to each other for quick-over-the-shoulder consultation, and with the other groups in easy reach for cross-disciplinary issues. There was little management 'interference' (though, of course, they checked in), 'cause they trusted the teams to work out the details.
Through many previous (and smaller) projects, I've preferred to work alone, and I was surprised at how well this worked out. We spent about three months at 10-12 hours a day (yes, five days a week, so we could decompress), and much to my eremitic amazement, even I felt that this arrangement worked very well for a project that was complex and reaching deadline.
Thoughts on arrangement: First, no close face-to-face stuff. We had about 20 feet between opposing sides of the U, so this was a non-issue. Secondly: no back-to-back (classroom style). This not only leads to looking-over-your-shoulder syndrome, but also a reduced face-to-face invitation for collaboration.