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How to Make a Lasting First Impression with Lobby Design

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In so many settings—from museums to schools to the workplaces—lobbies play an important part in creating a first and lasting impression for visitors. With the right approach and intentional design, lobbies can communicate brand, illustrate a company’s story, share their beliefs and help attract, retain and engage employees and clients, ultimately impacting a company’s performance.

An essential; part of many lobby designs is displaying a brand’s story. When I start working with a new client, I find it important to spend time understanding what drives their organization and employees; asking questions about history, culture and future goals in order to create a design that is uniquely fit for them. Infusing their brand in the lobby has the power to engage the senses and create memorable experiences for those who visit the space. A recent example of a lobby infused with brand was for Rockwell Automation. A key driver for Rockwell’s lobby redesign was preserving their lobby’s historic, original wood frame while showcasing their brand as an innovator in industrial automation. Creating a sense of safety, visitors first must enter through a secure vestibule before being welcomed by the lobby’s new envisioned design. Balancing a modern look while referencing the history and tradition of the company, our team salvaged wood and trim from the previous lobby and repurposed the elements into feature walls. We also reupholstered select original furniture to pay homage to the history of the space. Brand elements throughout include a sandblasted logo in the entrance vestibule, a display wall showcasing awards and products and backlit panels featuring images of Rockwell’s history.

Rockwell Automation Lobby

In addition to brand, design that considers users health and wellness provides a foundation for an engaged and productive workplace. Employees must feel like they are a part of the story to be able to speak proudly of it and share with the outside world. By surveying staff and visiting their existing spaces, it can reveal what they may need in a new design. Lobbies are a high-functioning component of the real estate equation. Incorporating adequate technology, collaborative seating and convenient hospitality in a lobby’s design provides employees with choice and contributes to creating a culture of inclusion. For the Hy Cite Enterprises Headquarters, creating an employee-centered workplace meant taking a heightened focus on the principles that drove their vision: “One entity. One vision. One team.” Incorporating modern design accents in the open concept design creates opportunities for informal touchpoints and inspires a highly collaborative environment. Located in the central building mass, the lobby acts as a bridge between the office wings and signifies a center for collaborative interaction that compliments the company’s family-style culture. The space is anchored by an innovation lab with an automated Italian kitchen system that combines a high design aesthetic and the functional efficiency required for Hy Cite’s product and recipe testing. Additionally, glass panels throughout the lobby not only usher in natural daylight but create a sense of transparency and trust that contributes to increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing. Beyond the lobby, the employee experience is enhanced by over 200 works of art curated from Hy Cite’s collection featured throughout the three-story building. New wellness programs are supported through integrated features such as a central work café, private dining alcove for employee events, healthy meal options, a fitness center with locker rooms, a secluded patio and an employee garden. By truly listening to Hy Cite and their employees, we were able to understand their needs and deliver a tailored design that creates a workplace of choice and supports wellness. 

Hy Cite Enterprises

As a designer, it is ultimately our responsibility to create high performance design that considers everything from client needs and employee wellness to the environmental impact and long-term vision of the space. Having an integrated team and project approach is key to achieving high performance design and may include input from users, community and city boards to ensure the best outcome. For American Family Insurance’s Spark in downtown Madison, it was important that the design reflected their growth and highlighted an emphasis on innovation, sustainability, community investment and entrepreneurialism. Situated in the heart of the Capitol East district, the Spark contributes to the ongoing transformation of the neighborhood by committing to doing things differently and embracing experiences. Illustrating a modern, environmentally sustainable design, the Spark creates an architectural statement and is inclusive of the fabric of the neighborhood. Additionally, the lobby’s design considers the needs and demands on the building are going to evolve and can make changes quickly with an efficient centralized core, clean and sustainable materials and raised floors for power and data.

 American Family Insurance Spark

In our increasingly dynamic world, lobby design needs to evolve to accommodate future needs more than ever. With the global pandemic, we must take into account adequately controlling infection in these high traffic entrances, to address this we have created Five Opportunities to Improve Lobby Design in Response to Pandemics. I’m sure there are more changes to come, but first and foremost, lobby design should make users identify with the company’s brand while feeling safe and welcome. Everything from customer service to smell to lighting contributes to setting the stage for this experience; the key to communicating your message is through a custom design that is tailored to fit your needs and goals.

Jackie Posselt , ASID, LEED AP ID+C
Senior Interior Designer : Principal

Jackie is a Senior Interior Designer and Principal with EUA's Workplace Studio out of the Milwaukee office. She engages with her clients to set the vision of how the space will function. In her free time, Jackie enjoys traveling and walking her French Bulldog.

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