Federal Plazas and Lobbies
According to agency statistics, GSA has a significant presence in more than 2,000 communities across the country. The way in which federal properties interface with the environments around them directly impacts a community’s perception of the federal government. Federal lobbies are active, dynamic, amazing spaces. It is estimated that nearly 800,000 people pass through federal lobbies every day. Review of traffic in and out of GSA properties on a regular basis is staggering:
- Each day, security guards in federal lobbies answer more than 100,000 questions.
- In one month period, more than 8,500,000 IRS forms are picked up in federal lobbies nationwide.
- Each year more than 1,620,000,000 letters are mailed from GSA buildings.
Each visitor to a federal building comes for a purpose, and it is GSA’s responsibility to ensure that visitors arrive at their destination safely, feel welcome, and are able to transact their business in the most straightforward way possible. To the extent that we are able, GSA endeavors to keep spaces that are lively and well-maintained.
The First Impressions Program is a partnership between GSA’s Central Office and the agency’s eleven regional offices. The GSA Regional offices, their Service Centers, and Building Managers are responsible for implementing improvements and executing First Impressions projects. Through the Office of Design and Construction Programs, GSA's Central Office provides a range of resources that regional offices can draw on as they work to improve their properties.
The First Impressions Program is staffed by a single Central Office point-of-contact. This individual is responsible for programmatic oversight, coordinating resources, and establishing national standards. The point-of-contact ensures regular, open communication between the regional champions and project and property managers on the GSA side, as well as serving as the COR for the Architects and Landscape Architects on the IDIQ contracts.
GSA Regional Offices (Regions)
Ideally, each region has developed a prioritized list of projects that they hope to fund, along with a rough estimate of what each improvement is slated to cost. Certain projects are funded as part of the annual budgeting process, while others receive funding only after it is clear that there will be “leftover” funds at the end of the fiscal year.
In the case of architectural improvements, systems upgrades, and landscaping, the regions may elect to use the national First Impressions IDIQ contracts. Typically, firms procured as First Impressions IDIQ’s are selected with architectural design abilities in mind; they therefore tend to be more appropriate for non-utilitarian problems and high profile projects.
GSA Service Centers and Property Managers
Many of the improvements that happen through the First Impressions program actually take place in GSA Service Centers and with Property Managers. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Service center associates and property managers make decisions on a daily basis that affect the way our buildings look. Often it is their tastes that determine the color of the carpet that is selected, the paint color applied to the walls, or the type of fixture that is purchased to replace the one no longer working. These seemingly small decisions can have a disastrous, cumulative effect.
The First Impressions Program has a close relationship with many other programs and offices in the Public Buildings Service (PBS).
First Impressions works closely with the Center for Design Excellence and the Arts (PMB), the Center for Historic Buildings (Historic Preservation), the Urban Development - Good Neighbor Program, the Interior Design Program, and the Chief Engineer Division.
Both within and outside GSA, the First Impressions program offers a number of resources that can help with any design project, large or small. Principle among these are the two Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts that the program maintains for architecture/engineering and landscape architecture services.
The First Impressions IDIQ architecture and landscape architecture firms provide award-winning design services as well as the skills of their team members, including graphic designers, lighting designers, and security experts. Since each firm was selected through the Design Excellence process, they lend the same design quality to below-prospectus projects as is expected in GSA's larger projects.