One Boston Place and One Beacon Street, two CBRE/New England-managed buildings, are undergoing lobby renovations. Both lobbies were cast in dark stone with dated lighting and sparse, uninviting seating. This buttoned-up aesthetic resulted in both lobbies being used as a thruway rather than a functional multi-purpose space. As we’ve seen with the rise of office amenities, creating an almost hotel-like environment in office buildings is appealing to tenants, invigorates previously unused space and is beneficial to employees’ well-being. Lobbies, which have previously been overlooked, are spaces that can benefit from activation, too.
Ownership at One Boston Place (TH Real Estate and Ivanhoé Cambridge) and One Beacon Street (MetLife Investment Management and Norges Bank Real Estate Management) took similar approaches when making renovation decisions: they listened to their tenants. Tenants’ comments coupled with insight from the world-renowned architectural firms chosen dictated the lobby designs. We asked the property managers of both buildings a few questions to break down how that hotel experience translates into benefitting employees. Below is the Q&A session with CBRE/NE’s Brian Allyn, Associate Real Estate Manager, from One Boston Place as well as Nate Hamilton, General Manager, and Dominic Russo, Operations Manager, from One Beacon Street.
- How would you describe your new space vs. your old space and how is your new space similar to that of a hotel’s?
One Boston Place: With the help of architectural firm Stantec, our new space should be warm and inviting, compared with the cold and unapproachable past lobby. Our goal is for the lobby to be client-driven and equipped with a concierge service plus a plethora of seating options. We want to keep the space casual to encourage tenants to incorporate it into their 24/7 lifestyle. We’ve just secured Wolfgang Steakhouse to occupy the former bank space and we are working on introducing another retail tenant to the former Paul Bakery space. These two retail options will help to further integrate the space with Boston’s live-work-play atmosphere.
One Beacon Street: Our old space was narrow and traditional. Our new space will be well-lit, inviting, bigger and comfortable. With help from our architectural firm, Gensler, we focused on picking useable furniture, expanding the space and streamlining the design.
- What was your strategy in terms of soft products and hard products?
One Boston Place: We wanted to harness the great natural light that the lobby gets from our glass façade. We did this by bringing in a team of lighting architects to design lighting that gracefully balances out the natural light with artificial light. Additionally, we wanted to soften the space, so our architects recommended incorporating surfaces with wood rather than stone. On the soft product side, we spent a great deal of time selecting the right furniture that would be comfortable, attractive and functional for tenants to use, like that of a hotel’s. At the end of the day, if a chair is not the right height or if a table is not the right size, tenants won’t feel comfortable using the space.
One Beacon Street: Our design process had a massive emphasis on making sure the furniture and décor were inviting for tenants. The chairs, couches, rugs and tables were a huge decision for us as we want them to be utilized! As you can see from the designs, the hard products are minimalistic and clean. In addition to the lobby renovation, we are also doing some infrastructure work and design improvements to the 23 columns out front (taking away the stone and replacing with metal). The redone columns will aesthetically align with the interior lobby work.
- How are you making the space comfortable to guests?
One Boston Place: As mentioned before, our space is primarily comfort-driven. By removing the low-slung black leather couches and adding supportive chairs in softer fabrics, the space can really be used to grab coffee with a colleague, hold an impromptu meeting or use as a co-working space. We’ve added a new feature desk and relocated it to be closer to the elevators. The lobby seating was moved closer to the natural light and entrance. Currently, tenants love the interior lobby entrance to the on-site gym, so we ensured that that entrance would stay.
One Beacon Street: We actually expanded the front of the lobby by 9’ and removed one of the revolving doors to add more room and light to the space. By expanding the lobby, we were able to add two large areas of seating that is out of the way from the traffic to and from the elevator banks. These additions will turn the two wings of the lobby into almost intimate co-working lounges.
- We’ve learned so much about how art impacts employee experience. Describe the art you have planned for the lobby.
One Boston Place: Still in the decision-making process—stay tuned!
One Beacon Street: We are happy to announce that we are incorporating light sculptures in all three of the elevator banks. The sculptures will appear like they are floating above the elevators.