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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

The Lobby Is the New Art Gallery

Co-op and condo boards are always looking for ways to enhance their buildings’ curb appeal, which usually involves landscaping, facade repairs, or a lobby makeover. Now a growing number of boards and developers are using an unconventional tool to boost their curb appeal: original art.

The board at the 205-unit co-op at 333 East 14th Street in Manhattan didn’t have to look far when it sought artwork that could enhance the building’s lobby. Several members of the board had bought paintings by a shareholder named Peter Zinos, and when the board was upgrading the lobby, the directors decided to purchase two of his works – including a streetscape of the building’s block – and hang them on the lobby wall. The interior designer agreed, and it was done.

“It gives the building some of that East Village character,” says current board president Dean Theodos. In a city teeming with artists – from the starving variety to brand-name superstars – it isn’t hard to find original artwork to fit any budget. High-end developers are jumping on the bandwagon, adorning lobbies, courtyards, hallways, even sidewalks with works by artists that include Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, and Yayoi Kusama. Shaun Osher, chief executive of the real estate company CORE, told The New York Times that he routinely advises developers to invest in art for their lobbies. “We’ve started recommending, more and more, to have really great pieces of art,” Osher said. “It’s the tone-setter and the first impression.”

At 333 East 14th Street, according to Theodos, shareholder reaction to Zinos’s paintings has been overwhelmingly favorable – and has undoubtedly increased the co-op’s curb appeal. “Everyone I’ve talked to likes it,” Theodos says. “Our lobby doesn’t look like every other building.”

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