Creating a Destination-Worthy Lobby
In the past year, the way we think about our workplaces has evolved immensely. In 2021 and beyond, workplaces will need to bring a new approach to functionality and experience in order to entice employees back to the office.
Following 2020, more property owners and managers are seeing their properties through new eyes. As a result, here at Elsy Studios, we’ve seen a marked uptick in projects that involve repositioning spaces, and in particular, dated lobbies – the first impression of a building.
In older buildings, more often than not, the lobby has not been regularly updated over the years. The space was traditionally seen as a pass-through, rather than a destination. Maybe it had a security desk or a few chairs and a piece of art, but you weren’t exactly invited to stay. Now, we’re seeing clients looking to give these previously underutilized spaces a real purpose to attract a new generation of office tenants.
Here are the main pillars to focus on when creating a “destination-worthy” lobby:
Create a Welcoming Space
To design a lobby that will be seen as a place to go, rather than just go through, the space must feel comfortable and purposeful, inviting visitors and tenants to come and stay a while.
We transformed the traditional corporate lobby at our 4500 Cherry Creek project into an exciting and memorable place to gather with a dramatic fireplace as the signature element in the space. This warm, inviting focal point is a powerful element in drawing tenants to gather – either alone to catch up on a few emails or with coworkers and clients for a quick meeting.
We further activated the ground-floor lobby and adjacent spaces with flexible, multi-purpose environments, including a 50-person meeting and event space and a smaller meeting room for tenant use, in addition to the comfortable lobby seating.
Our clients at KBS and JLL also recognized the need for a better first impression and hired us to reimagine the lobby of the 1,800-square-foot lobby of Village Center Station, a Class A office building in Greenwood Village. Together, we transformed the cavernous, echo-prone ground floor into a more intimate, distinctive space, adding seating and bringing the visual plane of the existing 20-foot ceilings down to scale by adding interesting lighting fixtures. This project in particular proved that an impactful lobby design doesn’t have to break the bank. Working with existing elements like the terrazzo flooring and wood paneling, we strategically added in new elements, like this incredible large commissioned art piece, updating the paint and fixtures to completely change the look of the lobby.
Make the Lobby an Optional Workspace
The easiest way to activate the lobby is to make it an attractive place for a quick change of scenery – something many people were empowered to create for themselves in their own homes throughout the pandemic. This can be accomplished by creating small touch-down meeting areas equipped with seating, a writing surface and wi-fi.
On our project for Everwest, we added in two touch-down spaces – one anchored by a screen that employees can use for meeting purposes – along with a large-scale mural referencing the building’s history as a Ford Model-T plant that invites visitors to pause a while.
Amenitize, Amenitize, Amenitize
The traditional lobby typically holds, at most, a small convenience store – if you’re lucky. Today, there is a growing push to add in destination-worthy amenities such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops, fitness spaces, retail shops and more.
For example, out team imagined this expansive amenity space to show our client the possibilities at our new project at 327 Inverness Drive in Englewood, Colorado. This area would provide employees with a number of opportunities to connect and recharge with a wide array of seating options for different needs.
Don’t Forget Your Own Lobby
Great lobby design does not end with the main lobby of your building. Clients who might not have control of the building lobby can still apply these same principles to the area outside the elevators on their floor. Our designs for Service Source, Yes Communities and Healthgrades (see above) incorporated welcoming design touches that are each a unique reflection of the experience in that office.
More and more, the lobby has become an important consideration for tenants and an attractive selling point for new tenants. The first step is taking a step back and asking, “How does this space look to someone looking to decide whether to renew or move in?” From there, the options really are endless, but fortunately, a little refresh can go a long way.