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Design Resources

    • Design Notebook for Federal Lobby Security
    • Facilities Standards
    • Lobby Security Design Guide
    • Site Security Design Guide
    • Signage Guidelines
    • Property Manager's Desk Guide

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.
  • Each month, 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 they arrive at their destination safely, feel welcome, and are able to transact their business seamlessly. GSA endeavors to keep spaces that are lively and well-maintained.

Program Structure
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. 

GSA Central Office
Residing in the Central Office, Office of Architectural Design, the First Impressions Program is staffed by a single Program Director, as point-of-contact.  This individual is responsible for programmatic oversight, coordinating resources, and establishing national standards.  The Program Director ensures regular, open communication between the Regional Champions and Regional Chief Architects.

GSA Regional Offices
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 only firms procured utilizing Design Excellence strategies. First Impressions A&E firms 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.  When executed incrementally, 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).

GSA Central & Regional, Design & Construction Offices

Office of The Chief Architect:
- Design Excellence
- Art in Architecture – Fire Arts
- Historic Buildiings
- Urban Development

Office of Project Delivery:
- Project Delivery (Zones A, B, C)
- Art in Architecture – Fire Arts
- Historic Buildiings
- Urban Development

Office of National Customer Services Management
Office of Design and Construction Programs

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. 

First Impressions 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 should be selected through the Design Excellence process, lending the same design quality to below-prospectus projects as is expected in GSA's larger projects. 


Mary Shearill-Thompson
(202) 208-1827

first impressions,lobby,lobbies