As a community center, we recognize that our lobby is truly the heart of our facility. It’s vital that our building is a safe and welcoming space for people to come together. Decades ago our lobby was built outside, between two disconnected buildings to unify our center under one roof. Since then, our lobby has seen updates made, both big and small, including the addition of a roof, in an effort to make it a space for employees and members to use for town halls, important meetings, mahjong games, book clubs, Shabbat Sing, and nearly everything in between.

In January 2017, construction began once again on our main lobby in an effort to fully transform it into a functional, indoor space. Although the lobby underwent a minor remodel last year, this renovation was needed to modernize the lobby’s foundational aspects and increase security—the end result is an accessible, open, inviting area for our members to gather and hang.

What changes did we make?

The view as you walk into our new lobby

The timing of the project revolved around the construction of our upper parking lot and the removal of the large stone pillars from our lobby. In the ‘60s, when our lobby was an outdoor area, the pillars connected at the top to form a cement canopy that shielded members from the elements. Once our lobby became a covered area, these pillars were no longer necessary—they blocked natural light, took up much-needed space, and made it impossible to put in an efficient HVAC system as air would get caught above canopies that the pillars supported.

According to our Director of Operations Dan Schmatz, each concrete pillar weighed over 40,000 pounds. It was imperative that the pillars were removed before the asphalt was laid on the new upper parking lot because the pillars were so massive that the weight of them could have caused the asphalt to collapse.

In addition to making the lobby a more open space, we also aimed at making it more easily accessible by replacing our old front doors with automatic sliding doors that open upon approach. This will make it easier for people with wheelchairs, strollers, children, and those who have their hands full to enter the building. And while we know that the little ones get great joy out of pressing the red button to open the door, we know that these new doors will be much more efficient to operate. We have also installed a bullet resistant film on all windows and new security cameras near the front doors and around the lobby as an increased safety measure, so be sure to smile when you walk by!

Looking forward, CEO Ali Hill is working out the final details of putting a Vaad certified prepared foods kiosk in the lobby to accommodate those looking to grab a quick bite in between activities or for those who just want to come and stay for a while. We’ll share more information as it becomes available.

Although all of these features will make our lobby a more inviting space, more importantly these upgrades will allow the J to use our resources wisely, as we now have the following:

  • New LED lights and HVAC system. The lobby lights are also on timers for improved efficiency, and we’ve put a  film on the windows that will keep the lobby at an appropriate temperature for the season.
  • Landscaping upgrades. Through the use of xeriscaping and rock mulch, we have drastically reduced both water costs and irrigation needs.
  • Parking lot lights have been switched to LED lights reducing our energy use by 70%. We also upgraded our timer so that it operates off of the lunar calendar, and as an added bonus, our LED lights need no maintenance for up to 15 years!

What’s next?

The lobby and parking lot construction were the first steps in a long-term plan to upgrade and update our facility. Today, we began work on fixing a piping issue we found underneath the MACC sidewalk during construction (this does not require us to touch the parking lot we just built or redo any work already completed). After that, we will wrap up construction on the new Early Learning School wing (formerly where the Singer Gallery was located). Last, but definitely not least, we will shift our focus to updating the bathrooms off of the main lobby and renovating our locker rooms in the Fitness & Wellness Center, bringing them up to the standard that our members (and us) expect out of a fitness facility. All of these updates are scheduled to be completed in Fall of 2017.

We’re thrilled with our new space, and we owe it all to our community—thank you for your support, encouragement, and patience during the construction period. It is truly a new day at the J, and we’re looking forward to all the positive changes that have already occurred and those that are still to come.

See you soon!