With 2020 finally behind us, co-op shareholders and condominium owners are looking forward - and their boards are seeking to make improvements and changes that reflect both the crises of the past year and issues put on hold as the pandemic started. Nearly every aspect of multifamily administration and management has had to adapt or evolve in some way over the last year or so - and that includes the very public (and often very subjective) issue of lobby design. In addition to the usual aesthetic back-and-forth over paint vs. wallpaper or what kind of tile looks best, concerns today are centered around three areas of sheer practicality: safety, sustainability, and cleanliness.
Whether a result of the pandemic or not, NYC has seen an increase in crime over the past year. Break-ins are up, as are street muggings and robberies. Given this troubling trend, what can communities do to protect themselves?
“Have a presence - or at least a perceived presence,” says Marilyn Sygrove, president and owner of Sygrove Associates Design Group, an interior design firm based in Manhattan. “The visibility of building staff, such as your doorman, is key. Making him or her more easily seen - and able to see others - is a good first step. Locating the doorman’s desk as close to the door as possible definitely can be a deterrent [to misbehavior]. Close access to the package room or package closet to the desk assures that there is always someone in the lobby even if they have to step into the package room or closet for a few moments. Which reminds me that the package closet needs to be organized so that packages can be efficiently retrieved without wasting time.”
Another option under consideration by many boards, Sygrove continues, is to add or update security cameras at building entry points, elevator cabs and laundry rooms. “We are designing doorman desks to accommodate the viewing screens, so they are an integral part of each desk we design,” she says. Other security options and upgrades many buildings are considering include alarms and electronic entry doors. Sygrove also has a client contemplating having a panic button built into the doorman’s desk that is directly connected to the building’s security company. Electronic entry doors also provide lobby staff with a button at their desk or station to lock down the lobby in an emergency.
The trend toward environmentally conscious and renewable, sustainable technologies was gaining speed long before the pandemic. With pandemic management becoming more routine and less acute, boards are revisiting ideas and issues related to making their properties more sustainable.