The corridors have the vital function as a Means of Egress. Rightfully, they bear a lot of restrictions in design based on fire rating it needs to accomplish. They become one of the most expensive elements in construction. They do not, however, get much attention from the design community and rarely get photographed.
The construction restrictions and the cost become prohibitive for the designers trying innovative ideas. They have been treated as a 'utility area' and have been ignored. Especially in multi-family housing designs, since they do not count as 'rentable (RSF)' or 'sellable (SSF)' areas, they get the most meager design budget. It is often left to the electrical engineer to figure out the lighting, the architect to paint and carpet, and the signage contractor to put the unit IDs.
To me, the time between the elevator and the unit door is a critical time to make the tenants feel the quality of the buildings and their homes. And the elevator lobby and unit entrance mark the essential 'sense of arrival' and can evoke the pride one should feel about his/her home. In multi-family housing, these are the moments that replace the homes' gates, porches, picket fences, and the front doors. I feel it is a significant design opportunity and my responsibility as a designer to provide the 'sense of arrival' moments to the tenants of the building. There are several key points I need to remember designing the elevator lobbies and the corridors.
1. Code requirements
3. Relation to the building's lobby and the overall design concept for the building
4. Maintenance - frequent uses by the moving crews, the trips between the units and the trash rooms, pets, etc. 5. Durability of finishes 6. How do I mark the 'sense of arrival' for each unit in a long corridor
1. Gayley and Lindbrook
The building is a high-end apartment building near UCLA. The design concept for the building was 'Words (writing) in Displacement Between Generations' Luckily; the owner understood the importance of the corridor design in keeping the level of luxury for the building. We used carpet tiles with a pattern that reminisces time-lapse photography to express time passing by with speed. We designed the unit entrance to 'step-in' to create a niche for each unit, and enhance it with paint changes. We marked each unit with 'L' shape recessed LED light strips that peek out to the corridor, and draws the attention to the unit ID. To emphasize these LED markings, we used continuous lighting coves and light the corridor indirectly, while putting the sections of the LED tapes in the cove in an emergency circuit avoiding the needs to any recessed downlights in the ceiling. Quotes by influential thinkers follow the tenants throughout the full length of corridors.
The target market was young fashionistas and urbanists who have been transplanted to Los Angeles downtown from all around the world. We wanted to re-interpreted old Hollywood glamour that is synonym with Los Angeles globally. We played with sharp contrasts between white and black, and between matte and high gloss finishes of the paints. Minimal LED strip sconce with the champaign brass frame is installed on a ceiling to mark the entrance. The unit ID and doorbell are grouped on an anodized aluminum panel with Art-Deco edge details.
The target market was young professionals who want to embrace the nightlife of Korea Town. Our design inspiration was millennial executives: those who are between boy/girlhood and man/womanhood: those who are taken very seriously on one side but not seriously enough to the other side of the society. I thought of my favorite kind of executives whose cartoon shirts peek out inside their impeccable Armani suits, and whose bare ankles and sneakers get exposed when they sit in their high tech swivel chairs. With a tight budget left for the corridors, I have to come up with a solution within the norms of corridor finishes - paint, sconces, and carpet. I added a panel with copper metallic paint from Sherwin Williams. Copper seems to be the appropriate accent for the generation that embraced rose gold as their signature bling. I added unit IDs to I.O.Lighting's square LED sconce fixture to accentuate the metallic finish of the side panel.
4. The Abbey
The project was to renovate an abandoned school building into a 110-unit multi-family housing building. The budget was very tight, and the target market was young singles and students. The owner wanted to use inspiration from the old renovated buildings in Paris in blue-gold-silver color theme. I found a signage company who would laser cut patterns on metallic vinyl for the project. The motif later was applied to various places and thread the concept through the entire building, including the front entrance.
As it was an old office building renovated into a multi-family housing building, the corridors were very narrow with low ceiling height and had no natural light. I needed to come up with a design that will accentuate the horizontal line distracting the occupants away from the low ceiling height. Offsetting the carpet's pattern and lighting helped to skew the narrowness of the corridor.
6. Oakland The building's design concept was the displacement between high-tech life and longing for nature: 'urban naturalism' in the most diverse city in the U.S. Each of 26 elevator lobbied of the building will be adorned with backlit laser-cut plywood with patterns from around the world. When a culturally distinctive pattern is translated onto wood, without its colors, the pattern's cultural identity of its origin gets diluted. The corridors are finished with rough natural textures and custom-built overhead steel 'eave' with a unit ID and the light.