Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on November 9, 2022
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the wave of package deliveries into a tsunami, the board and property manager of the 151-unit Evans View condominium at 303 E. 60th St. realized they needed to upgrade their lobby.
“The lobby itself was looking dated, but package deliveries were becoming a crisis,” says the manager, Donal Bergin, the vice president at Allied Partners. “The ‘package room’ was a small closet. You can no longer operate a residential building in New York City without an adequate package room.”
Aware that the rise in the number of people working at home promises keep the tsunami coming, the condo board brought in Forbes Ergas Design, which had redone hallways in the 40-story tower about eight years ago. Karen Jack, co-owner and senior designer at Forbes Ergas, faced a dual challenge: improve the system for handling packages and modernize the space while retaining the multi-hued granite floor from when the building opened in 1987.
“They wanted to go a more modern route,” Jack says. “But since they didn’t have the budget to replace the original floor, we had to modernize the space through light fixtures and materials. We also had to get rid of the old equipment in the concierge’s desk and find a way to incorporate new equipment.”
Jack’s first step was to meet with the board president, the concierge and Bergin. “We looked at the architectural elements and talked about which elements would remain,” Jack says. Among the expendable elements was the wooden cladding on a support column. “The concierge explained what was lacking in the handling of package deliveries. We also had to design the concierge’s desk with drawers that could handle the KeyLink box.” This electronic security system, which augments BuildingLink software, prevents unauthorized access to keys and provides an audit trail of all key activities. It offers a level of safety when housekeepers, dog walkers or other contractors need to gain access to apartments. The concierge’s desk was designed with wells to accommodate monitors for security cameras and the BuildingLink system.
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Jack then surveyed the space and drew up optional floor plans. Once the board had signed off on the preferred plan, Jack moved on to designing the new lobby and creating renderings of her two design options.
“We took over the space behind the concierge’s desk and created a 16-by-11 foot room just for packages,” Jack says, adding that the design options included the shape and materials of the concierge’s desk, wall coverings, light fixtures and shelving in the storage room.
Management laid out the two options for residents by posting drawings, color schemes and fabric swatches in the lobby. Comments were solicited but there was no formal vote because, Bergin says, there was a clear consensus on which of the two designs was preferred.
After a long delay when COVID shut down such optional projects, requests for proposals went out to five contractors. Besides adding the spacious package room, the final design got rid of the wooden cladding on the support pillar and replaced it with porcelain slabs, created a new concierge’s desk made of porcelain and poplar, added woven wall fabrics and four custom light fixtures manufactured in Italy. Work was finally begun in the summer of 2021, and it was concluded this spring. Thanks to COVID and some supply-chain snags, the job came in behind schedule, but it was under the $450,000 budget, which was paid through an assessment.
“The residents are delighted by the lobby,” Bergin says, “especially the package room, because that situation was getting out of control.”
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS — PROPERTY MANAGER: Allied Partners. DESIGNER: Forbes Ergas Design.
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