The notorious first impression! Your building parking lot, sidewalks, entry points, and lobby are your one and only chance to make that critical first impression. Fancy is usually of no use, but clean and welcoming are absolutely key. Also remember that people need to know where to go without much confusion. Here are some other considerations to help get your brain inspired and moving:
- Consider the lobby/foyer as a main hub. Once a person enters the building, there should beeither obvious directional information or a nice signage plan to immediately let people know where to go. Remember to put yourself in the shoes of each type of person (for example, parents and children), and consider how they would experience the building (your architect should also do this).
- The lobby is a good option for the largest restroom location, but our preference is for a slightly offset restroom entry from the main lobby so that those entries have a degree of privacy while still being readily available.
- The ceiling in your lobby is a good place to do something interesting with a different material since it’s front and center. Nicer materials can be used sparingly but powerfully in high – focus areas.
- Think about sound. The entry is likely to be your largest area of “uncontrolled” sound. You may need to consider at least some softer surfaces such as carpet, carpet tiles, or even some sound absorption panels on the walls.
- Consider having some ceiling or wall – mounted TVs in this area for announcements.
- An office’s lobby is certainly important. Safety and security for staff, a welcoming entry for guests/customers, and great wayfinding is all very important. Consider the use of strategically placed glass in this front area, as well as a way to quickly triage separate groups who may enter at the same time.
- A church’s lobby will ideally have at least two different “centers”: a place for refreshments such as coffee or water, and a place to distribute information. It is not ideal (although certainly possible in a pinch) to have these two centers in the same place. Typically, these areas are manned by several people who need some room, and spills are also a factor for the refreshment area. If you are considering solid – surface countertops such as granite anywhere in the building, this would be the one place to splurge because it is a high – traffic area.
- Handicapped spaces need to be as close to the entry doors as possible, with ramps as needed (your architect will figure this out!)
- Simple, low – water plants and shrubs carry their weight when it comes to welcoming elements. Do not get carried away on landscaping unless you have someone willing to maintain it over the long haul. It’s better to do something simple and welcoming, which is likely to already be your building strategy. Look into xeriscaping* as a concept.
These points are some considerations to make when thinking about what you want other people first impression of your building to be. Remember, if you ever get stuck, always tie it back to your vision and keep moving!
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