March 2019 \ BUILDING DIALOGUE \ 65 A Wall Street Journal real estate column late last year declared that office building lobbies for the last century “served as little more than sterile passageways between the sidewalk and the desks above …” A small dose of urban hyperbole, to say the least, but there is truth in the sentiment. Aging Class A office buildings inmetro Denver and every other major American market are struggling to keep pace with similar renovated properties and, certainly, with new product. Lobby spac- es for years have been tagged for redevelopment largely because no other options exist to introduce or improve amenities within those existing buildings. Improvements might include upgraded collab- oration spaces, coffee shops, cafes, conference rooms, fitness rooms and a wide range of other modifications designed to offer tenants more options without having to leave the building. Downtown Denver’s Independence Plaza is one of those properties. Completed in 1972, Independence Plaza’s 567,287 square feet span 25 floors at 1050 17th St. The Class Aproperty is LEEDGold certified, and the scrupulous attentionpaid to its upkeep and improvement havemade it one of the finest addresses in Denver’s central business district. But the lobby needed a refresh, a “modernization and vitalization” said Cathy Har- ris, vice president and projectmanager withDenver’s JLL, which also does the leasing for the property. Harris noted that despite the building’s overall excellent condition, the lobby’s designneeded a push to competewithnewer properties downtown. “The final project matched the design vision of the asset manager exactly. The renderings clearly communicated the vision and the project was executed and delivered with no surprises.” The lobby’s main entrance off 17th Street opens into an elevator bank adjacent to the building’s security/concierge desk. The desk and wall panels are clad in dark walnut anchored by quartz slabs in taupe for both the countertop and transaction space. Decorative pendant lighting hangs atop the length of the desk while backlit identification signage completes the neutral space. A right turn past the security/concierge desk opens into the main lobby. The area is large, open and expansive, with a dramatic circular soffit dominating thewhole of the space. Cove lighting in the soffit along with a combination of indirect up-lights and decorative downlights keep the space cool and subdued. A second-floor outdoor atriumwith floor-to-top windows spill abundant natural light into the lobby space below. The entire lobby covers some 8,700 sf minus the fixed tenant spaces fanned out around the circular perimeter. Tenants range fromretail and restaurant to corporate brand names and professional services. This fixed set of assets has long been attrac- tive not only to the building’s tenants and guests, but also to neighbors who value the quality of the shops and restaurants, and the convenience of getting into and out of the space quickly and easily. At the center of the circular soffit – sometimes referred to as “the mothership” by management – is the new elevator feature, the construction of which posed a num- ber of challenges to both the design and construction. The previous elevator base had been wrapped in dark gray granite with a water feature draining into a floor reservoir. Vertex, the general contractor, had to demolish and rebuild the entire structure while keeping the elevator operational during the remodel period. Additionally, temporary walls with graphic signage had to be erect- ed around thework area to keep out noise and dust without compromising the flow Refreshing a Denver Icon: Independence Plaza Katie Winter Design Director, Kieding