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Improve Your Public Space

The First Impressions Program strives to provide GSA Property Managers, Project Managers and Asset Managers with resources for the successful evaluation and improvement of major lobby and plaza spaces in and around federal buildings. 

First Impressions projects typically fall below prospectus level. Tight funding may cause projects and solutions that should be easy to execute seem surprisingly difficult to accomplish.  Some of the resolvable issues that historically plague such efforts include:

  • Smaller projects not building on one another.
  • Improvements occurring in a vacuum.
  • Colors, finishes, and signage is not chosen with a vision of the unified whole.
  • Not getting the maximum mileage out of improvements.
  • Improvements reflecting the “flavor of the month” or the unique tastes of the ordering official.
  • Properties lacking a coordinated vision.
  • Funding for large-scale improvements may not seem forthcoming.

These efforts ostensibly compete with all of the other budget concerns borne by the region – utilities and system upgrades, heating costs, project related travel, etc.  Yet, as Property Managers and Project Managers take steps to make public spaces better, the First Impressions Program provides a methodology to augment current approaches to building improvements.
The First Impressions Program facilitates the collaboration needed for scoping, funding, managing, and executing projects, by assisting in the development of preemptive and cohesive strategies. 
The issue here isn’t just about cosmetic changes—it is also about maximizing taxpayer dollars.  No one advocates a one-size-fits-all solution, but limiting color, material, and signage palettes and establishing building standards, makes it easier to provide customers with office space that is uniform and competitive. 

More than just an aesthetic agenda, the program is smart business practice, strengthens our assets, makes our buildings more profitable, and improves tenant satisfaction.  For years, GSA has worked to provide a “world class workplace.”  First Impressions is the road map for getting there.


Well-designed signage systems play a vital role in First Impressions projects. Clear, consistent signs will welcome visitors to your building, reduce their anxiety as they pass through security, and finally help them find the tenant they’re visiting or other services within your building. These guidelines will help you understand how to unify the signs in your building. They include the goals of the First Impressions signage program, suggested standards for sign designs, mandatory sign lists, and ideas for implementing new sign changes in your building.

Graphic Standards

Each building has its own look; architecture, materials, traffic flow, and tenant mix come together to create a unique space. The signs in a building should be designed and placed to complement its unique environment.

It is equally important, however, that a certain level of signage standardization is established. Unifying the sign program will create a recognizable "GSA Look" and will facilitate easy signage changes. Contact your local First Impressions Champion for a copy of the Signage Guidelines.


Mary Shearill-Thompson
(202) 208-1827

first impressions,lobby,lobbies