Gensler’s New Lobby Paradigm for Marriott’s Bethesda HQ
Leave it to Gensler and Marriott to conceive a new lobby paradigm for the latter’s longtime headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. Once a security-oriented pass-through rife with corridors, the lobby is now wide open and (natch) hospitality oriented. Lounge seating, a juice bar, and myriad options for the site’s 3,000 employees to meet and mingle puts valuable real estate to valuable use.
“The hospitality-centric directive came from Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson,” recalls design principal Jordan Goldstein. Sorenson also wanted the firm to open up the 40,000-square-foot floor and create an “experience” that would double as workspace, adds project manager Francisco Gonzalez.
To oblige, Gensler designed seating clusters that manage the vast expanse. Conceived as a concierge setting, the entry sequence is on point with a solid-surface waterfall desk, abundant white-leather seating, and creamy porcelain flooring. Work/meeting cues come into play with glass-front team rooms and a central 12-foot-long custom table serviced by metal “ribbon” stools in Marriott’s corporate crimson. Overhead, acrylic lighting hung at varying heights lends dynamism while abetting wayfinding.
The vertical connector is an existing stairway leading down to the cafeteria and fitness center. Now it has a distinct sense of place thanks to an adjacent glass-cube beacon serving as a confab room. Other spots for ad hoc meetings are arrayed along either side: so-called caves framed in teak veneer or white drywall.
Gensler got graphic with Marriott’s media zone, too. A bank of fabric-wrapped LED panels embedded in an end wall is equal parts branding exercise and kinetic art installation.
Gensler: Chen Hui Spicer; Yukiko Takahashi; Amy Bixler; Mary Beth Cook; Maria Rucks; Ben Shealy. Lighting Consultant: Lighting Workshop. Structural Engineer: Theobald+Bufano & Associates. MEP: Karnik Gregorian Engineering. Woodwork: Mortensen Woodwork. General Contractor: James G. Davis Construction Corporation.