I have been a lobby interior designer for over thirty years. By any standard, I am likely the most experienced (or one of the most experienced) interior designer of condo and coop building lobbies in the New York City area. I’m aware of every single possible mistake that can be made when a building sets out to hire an interior designer for their lobby.
Simply put, I’ve seen it all. Most mistakes that people make when they hire a lobby interior designer are due to not getting enough of the right information right off the bat. These kinds of mistakes can result in stress for residents during construction, materials that don’t hold up to wear, and traffic patterns that make getting through a lobby more like running an obstacle course.
I find that the success of an interior design project; lobby, halls, facade, community room or private residence is closely tied into an overall “game plan”. So to call together all of the players before anyone lifts a hammer is crucial to the order of things leading to a smoothly orchestrated project.
Everything leading up to the start date should be put to bed; all of the design work completed, approved and competitively bid out. The selection of the general contractor and specialty subcontractors have been made, contracts signed, deposits paid and the work schedule has been coordinated among all of the parties.
We always recommend having a “kick-off”meeting at the jobsite. The team should include the property manager, building superintendent, project liaison, designer and the contractors. This introduction and “bonding time” is essential to success. It is the perfect time to establish the chain of command and the communication flow.
- Establish spaces that workers can use to change their clothes, eat their lunch and use a bathroom facility.
- Familiarize the entire team with the existing conditions and discuss any challenges. Walking through the project to review the logistics of moving residents, workers and materials in and out of the site safely on a daily basis is essential. For example, if a stone floor installation is part of the project scope, it is good for the Team to visualize the residents’ path during the course of the installation. Team generated solutions typically come out of this collaboration.
- Work hours – noisy and quiet work will be discussed and worked out within the work day schedule.
- Deliveries – anticipated dates and who will receive them. This can get tricky. An example would be items not purchased by the contractors which can included decorative light fixtures or wall covering. Sorting out whether the contractors’ workers or building staff will be lugging in things like the hallway light fixtures or wall covering.
- Security – workers to sign-in and wear company t-shirts.
- Communications and notification for residents – the property manager and superintendent will post information prior to all work in advance so that residents have notice.
- Set up formal site meetings on a regular (weekly or every other week) to review work, problem solve, prepare “look ahead” notices for residents and generate meeting notes for attendees and others.
- Confirmations – all certificates of insurance are correct and current, work schedules, and target dates are still up to date.
After years of large lobby and hallway design projects under my belt, I know that anticipation can really pay off.
If you have any questions on how to organize your Interior Design Kick Off Meeting, please feel free to send me an email.