Next-Gen Lobbies

To attract a new generation of knowledge workers and their tech company employers, commercial owners are investing in new lobby designs to reposition and rebrand. How can the buildings of yesterday become buildings for tomorrow?

By Haril Pandya, AIA, LEED AP  |  Photography by Anton Grassl + Andy Ryan

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    The redesigned lobby at 60 State Street. View larger

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    With impressive views and access to natural light, the new contemporary design of the lobby at One Rogers Street embraces nature with its use of limba wood panels and warm natural tones. Lomas lounge chairs from Montis, Conic coffee tables from Allermuir and textile-inspired flooring from Bolon complete the space. View larger

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    A beautifully lit glass wall reflects the Boston skyline and natural light into the boutique-feeling One Memorial Drive lobby. Its color changes throughout the day; it is also programmed with color scenes for key occasions and holidays. Leather club chairs from Rudin, coffee tables from Carolina and area rugs from Karastan create a hip yet comfortable place to socialize and work. View larger

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    Coffee tables from Cumberland and distinctive curved seating upholstered in leathers from Moore & Giles and Enrico Pellizzoni make the lobby of 53 State Street feel more like that of an urban hotel than an office building. View larger

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    The lobby at One Memorial Drive includes a vibrant café with a view of the city. Tall ceilings and ample natural light make it a hub of activity. View larger

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    A new café fills an underused corner of the 53 State Street lobby, creating a popular gathering space while also generating revenue in a previously vacant space. View larger

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    A lush new landscape was created for the threshold of the building entry at One Rogers Street. It offers new park structures and areas to gather in, such as this custom teak trellis and ipe bench. View larger

integrating nature
Integrating indoor and outdoor space is another repositioning strategy applied in both urban and suburban locations. At One Rogers Street, a Class A office building in tech-centric Cambridge, Mass., an ambitious rebranding program transformed a former corporate headquarters into a multi-tenant technology center.

“The building had a serious identity crisis in the broker community and with potential tenants,” recalls Kevin Stubbs, director of architecture and engineering for Principal Real Estate Investors, the building’s owners. “We had a property known only as a former headquarters. It was seen as two separate buildings and had two addresses. The lobby and courtyard were underutilized and dated, to say the least.”

Principal and CBT undertook a comprehensive strategic plan to evaluate the market opportunities and review options for a repositioning program that would help attract the target demographic: life science, R&D, technology and consulting firms. From this planning, a big idea emerged: By treating the large courtyard space as an integral extension of the lobby, the brand identity could be dramatically changed by creating a destination filled with life, color and light.

Today, the interiors at One Rogers are flooded with daylight. A reflective back-painted glass wall and a nature-inspired, LED-lit wood feature combine to increase the lobby’s depth and height while mirroring the external elevations of the building. A popular café and fitness center extend to the east connecting all key public spaces. Exterior courtyard seating expands the lobby experience outdoors.

“CBT tailored the program to meet the demographic future by providing an edgier look and feel with simple, clean lines and a green-oriented image. It’s a home run for us,” Stubbs says. The repositioning has elevated the building among its competition, generated positive broker feedback, improved energy efficiency and increased the occupancy of technology-based companies.

Equity Office, with a portfolio that includes 70 million square feet of Class A office space in the United States, recently invested in a repositioning of 60 State Street, one of Boston’s most prominent office towers. Built in the 1970s, the lobby suffered from its small size and lack of natural light.

“We invited input from tenants on what they wanted to see, and learned how important the lobby image is when they decide to lease or renew,” says John Conley, senior vice president of asset management for Equity. “Our goal was to attract more tech companies who can appreciate the building, plus keep the tried-and-true companies that have always been downtown. Today we have a broad range of tenants looking at the building, including everyone from digital advertising firms to traditional financial service companies.”

As collaboration and social experience become more important to tenants, office buildings can finally unbutton those starched collars and become beloved destinations for all generations. By taking a strategic approach to implementing high-impact renovations, designers can provide solutions that alter perceptions, advance brand identity, and improve a building’s revenue and market value.


Haril Pandya, AIA, LEED AP is a principal at CBT Architects in Boston with two decades of experience planning and designing corporate, hospitality, mixed-use and retail projects. He specializes in the strategic rebranding, repurposing and repositioning of urban and suburban commercial buildings.



 project team 
architecture + interiors
CBT Architects
110 Canal Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 262-4354


 one memorial drive 

(800) 234-1120

A Rudin
(212) 644-3766

(828) 758-9811

(800) 763-0212

(800) 401-7877

+347 480 1218

Ceramiche Caesar
(732) 389-5757

 53 State Street 

Stephen Sheffield
(617) 875-3009



Enrico Pellizzoni
+39 (0) 31 746286

(216) 662-8864

Yellow Goat Design
(215) 510-4543

Atlas Carpet Mills
(800) 367-8188

(800) 354-9858

(800) 621-0827 

Enrico Pellizzoni

Moore & Giles
(800) 737-0169


(855) 753-5474

(800) 645-3943

Wolf Gordon
(800) 347-0550

 60 State Street 


Crema Marfil

 One Rogers Street 

(212) 252-2049

(419) 887-5806

+31 162 377 777



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