Lobbies Hold the Key to Modern Branding at Office Properties

Poskanzer Skott Architects Helps Clients Appeal to a New Generation

RIDGEWOOD, N.J., Dec. 3, 2014 – When it comes to office buildings, the old adage about first impressions holds true, according to Barry Poskanzer, AIA. As a new generation of space users seeks accommodations, owner-occupiers and landlords are working to make their properties modern and inviting in order to win employees and tenants – and they are setting the tone with their lobbies. In fact, Poskanzer Skott Architects (PSA) in Ridgewood is seeing stepped-up inquiries and activity involving design and renovation projects. In the following interview, Poskanzer discusses the importance of entryways as a focal point for property branding.

What are you observing in terms of momentum?
The market has turned around. Companies and multi-tenant landlords are again committing to capital projects, while value-add investors are actively purchasing assets and subsequently working to reposition and stabilize them. In this highly competitive market, properties must appeal to current preferences from the outset. In that sense, the lobby has become a critical marketing tool.

Do these “modern” lobbies have common elements?
Today’s corporate space users and their millennial-generation employees want bright, inviting and accessible environments, and it is essential to incorporate these attributes into the lobby. The finishes and furniture in this public area make a powerful statement about what can be found behind the curtain, so to speak. Multi-tenant environments often have a concierge desk with security and building services that is, in essence, the welcome point for the property. For a single-tenant building, the lobby speaks volumes about the company that occupies it.

Can you provide an example of a statement-making single-tenant lobby design?
PSA served as architect and master planner for Mediacom Communications Corporation’s new corporate headquarters in Blooming Grove, New York. We worked closely with the owner of the country’s 8th largest cable television company to create a state-of-the-art facility that reflected the high-tech operating nature of the business. At the same time, the 110,000-square-foot building sits on 200 acres of farmland with expansive hilltop views.

Mediacom’s soaring three-story lobby makes a definitive statement about the unique work environment the company’s leadership has created for its employees. Striking design elements include a sweeping stainless steel and glass staircase and a serpentine glass wall that maximizes the location’s abundant natural light and dramatic views. Neutral finishes are punctuated with bright splashes of color in the furniture and accents. The lobby’s light-filled, spacious and open feel projects the aesthetic that visitors will find throughout the building.

How can a lobby update help an older, multi-tenant building gain competitive advantage?
Our firm is highly active in New Jersey, a market where a significant amount of office product dates back three (or more) decades. At these older properties, well-executed common area restorations that bring in contemporary materials, updated colors and new lighting can change the entire feel. Princeton North Plaza, a 65,000-square-foot, multi-tenant office building in Plainsboro, New Jersey, illustrates this trend. The ownership recently retained PSA to redesign the property’s 2,500-square-foot lobby. This mid-1980s building has great bones, but the finishes and materials were dated. The two-story entry has a triangular shape and a connecting staircase. The odd angles add character to the space but also presented a design challenge.

We concentrated on creating a sense of cohesiveness, incorporating new wood-plank ceramic tile and keeping some of the original Carrera marble flooring at the elevator bases and as accents throughout the space. Upgraded light fixtures and elements such as carpet tiles and paint in whites and browns create a clean, crisp effect, while brick finishes mirror the building’s exterior and provide a continuous theme for the entryway. The end result works seamlessly with the existing structure.

Is this type of rebranding success exclusive to the office sector?
Not at all. We recently completed a project for a client that purchased a 213,000-square-foot industrial asset on Island Road in Mahwah, New Jersey, and retained us to design a renovation and upgrade that would position the vacant, former single-occupant property for multi-tenant use. The project centered on a complete shell renovation – including the redesign of the entrances – as well as a number of functional improvements. Providing a fresh image, particularly as potential tenants came into the building, helped our client secure a new, 136,000-square-foot anchor for the property, even before the project was completed.

Poskanzer Skott Architects is an established, award-winning design and planning firm recognized for its innovative and workable design solutions. The company has broad experience in the entire design process from concept to completion working on behalf of office, industrial, retail, multi-family, educational, health care and residential real estate clients, including the public, private and non-profit sectors.