President, Matthew Adam Properties
Get Everyone Involved in a Lobby Makeover
Setting the Scene
One of the most interesting, difficult, and probably divisive projects for any building, believe it or not, would be hallway decorations. We’ve done so many of them that sometimes I feel like I’m a decorator. Recently, I had the opportunity to work on a very large project. I met with the board, and the members interviewed several well-known designers, hired one, and started putting the project together. They put a nice note out to the people in the building saying, “Hey, we’re going to be doing the hallways over. Isn’t that great?”
Following the Action
It backfired. Many residents were upset that they were not consulted, because some of them were designers, or someone’s cousin was a designer. Everybody knew a designer, and everybody had his or her own taste.
I stepped in and recommended that we have cooperation and/or contributions from everybody. So, against the designer’s wishes, we had three separate displays assembled by the designer, incorporating many different aspects of how we felt the hallways should look. They were posted in the lobby. I also insisted that the designer have what we call a “suicide night.” He ended up spending an evening discussing with all these shareholders, in the lobby of the building, ideas that had been proposed. We then gave them the opportunity, over several days, to place their comments in a suggestion box.
We ended up taking all the comments – there were probably about 200 – back to our office with the designer and two board members, and consolidating them. A lot of interesting items were added to the project. Many of the people had been in other people’s homes, or design centers, or hotels, and they saw little things they liked, things ranging from different baseboards and different crown moldings to different trim around the doors. It was a wonderful thing to do. It added a community spirit to the building.
What I found shocking is that the designer objected to everything. He became an enemy of the project. The board decided that the designer was the biggest obstacle, and he was fired. My asset manager and my director of operations joined with me to implement the project. Through our firm’s size and connections, we were able to get most of the materials substantially cheaper than the designer had quoted them originally, and the project was magnificent, under budget, and without a single complaint.
Doing It Right
A co-op is community. If you’re thinking about doing the hallway or lobby, get people involved. Everybody has an idea. That’s the right way to do it.