First impressions matter. An office building’s lobby can be more than just a quick route to the elevators. It can be a space for people to meet, work, and relax, and – if done well – it can help attract and retain office tenants.
When Bergmeyer was asked to reimagine the lobby of 343 Congress Street, a historic brick commercial building in Boston’s Fort Point Channel, we didn’t want to simply meet market expectations. We wanted to defy them. Our design team saw the 1200 square foot lobby renovation as an exciting opportunity to deliver something unexpected and elevate the building’s “hospitality factor” to better serve its current and potential tenants.
The objectives for the 343 Congress Street lobby were clear: To provide flexible work and lounge options, to aesthetically connect the neighborhood’s historic identity with Boston’s modern, tech-driven future, and to elevate the building user’s experience.
The design team thoughtfully restrategized the building’s arrival experience, studying previous circulation patterns and converting an underutilized second entry into a tenant lounge. Finish materials and aesthetic elements were chosen that would fuse the old and the new. Natural wood was polished with a hint of texture to give it an aged look. Decorative metal was used to frame the collaboration alcoves, making reference to cast-iron architectural elements from the Fort Point’s industrial past. PVC-free vegan leather upholstery was used to give a touch of luxury to the comfortable yet durable alcove seating. Perforated metal lighting on the signage, ceilings, and back wall creates an almost starlit effect, further elevating the space’s unexpected modernity.
The building’s existing ground floor commercial tenants and the presence of some unexpected structural elements gave the lobby an unusual shape: one side curved and the other side straight with irregular alcoves. Bergmeyer turned these challenges into opportunities, creating a contrast between the dynamic arc of the curved side and the occupiable niches of the other. The design team also strategically removed an underutilized parking attendant desk from the lobby program, replacing it with a wood credenza and a digital message board.
As more of Boston’s commercial tenants look to move to mid-rise historic neighborhoods such as the Fort Point Channel with unique features and character, the office building market must also provide unique and adaptable public spaces to meet these tenants’ expectations. The transformation complete, the lobby of 343 Congress Street’s is a fresh and inviting “third space” that distinguishes the property and serves as an amenity for tenants and visitors alike.