Prior to the renovation it was easy to walk past the main lobby of this high quality office building because the clear glass curtain wall was recessed in a shadowy nook six feet behind the building line. While the ground level retail storefronts bow out into the sidewalk the corporate entrance was nearly hidden.
The owner asked for increased visibility and signage for the office tenants. Upgrading the property image could lead to higher rents, more leasing traffic and retention of existing occupants. Another measure of success for this design solution was to reduce the size of the main lobby and provide vertical access to a vacant space on the second floor. The developer was getting the lowest price per square foot on the lower office levels because they are seen as less desirable because they offer limited views. Alternately, there are several examples of viable second floor retail on restaurants on Newbury and Boylston Street.
We were tasked with designing a lobby that could provide separate access from the street to the potential second floor retail on nights and weekends when the security guard is not on duty as well as direct access to the amenity for the offices tenants during the work week. We wanted the maintain symmetry and the appearance of full width even though the retail vestibule would only be on the left side. A glass wall with a glass door was the clear answer… no pun intended! A retail store or restaurant would be open to the public therefore require it to be accessible to people with disabilities. The feature stair worth of the main lobby would be the primary access to the space, but we had to include a limited use lift as well. This is less infrastructure intense than a true elevator, but could be an eye soar. We chose to clad the lift in full height walls even though it doesn’t need an enclosed shaft because it would create a clean object in the space that the stair could wrap around. Another efficiency was found by tucking the corporate reception desk under the stair to share and area that would be of no use to the retailer.
In working through this geometry and constraints was where the combination desk stair (DeStair? StaDesk?) was born. The idea was for the desk to seamlessly blend into the stair as it appeared to pass through the glass wall. By playing with required riser heights of between six and seven inches compared to standard transaction counter bottom heights it was determined that six equal steps could be the same height as the body of the desk with the seventh step being an accent material that also served as the high counter. Above that the material would change again to be purely stair.
The concept developed by analyzing aspirational and upward momentum of Boylston Street coupled with the high-fashion nature of its next door neighbor Newbury Street the premier shopping destination in Boston boasting haut couture brands like Chanel, Burberry, Prada and Armani, Hermes, La Perla. Mens Fashion seemed demure and tailored fitting the corporate world of the office tenants. We were inspired by tweed, leather, soft grays and dark charcoals with accents of yellow and gold, the Rolex, if you will.
Lastly, the engagement of the street was an exercise is form giving, lighting and signage. The original lobby was very wide and shallow. Pushing the glass line out beyond the building five feet (as far as zoning allowed) would help, but extending the canopy and sidewalk paving even further (five more feet to the edge of the property line) created a an even more grand gesture. Backlit. Reflections. Edge lit flanking portals.
Interior: Cutting back curved portion balcony. Transparent seamless glass guard rail. extending cantilevered paper thin canopy plain and exterior paving material in. Painting exposed brick side walls with metallic white. Highly textured back wall lit from the top at the second floor and the floor at the first floor to minimize the balcony and make the wall appear continuously double height. Leather elevator cladding, cove lighting. Wood veneer millwork for TV near seating area. Custom rug. Decorative floor lamps that are reminiscent of high-end photoshoot flash bulbs.