Law firm updates space to be better used by both attorneys and visitors.
As Columbus' “Old, Old Post Office,” Bricker & Eckler's building has a lot of history. Grand vaulted hallways of marble, dark wood and glass from the original build all make for quite an experience—but it also has cranberry carpeting from the 1980s, and until recently, an expansive and rather dark library. As times change and as Bricker changes, so does the building it lives in.
Its most recent update, the lobby, is a replacement for the cave-like library that once got so much use from attorneys and then didn't anymore as research moved to the internet. It was the first thing people saw when they walked into the firm's 3rd Street entrance. Now, what they will see is updated dark blue carpet and an attractive reception area opening into a room with leather couches and chairs, work areas galore, televisions playing business news, a coffee station, and a locked bar for after-hours meetings and celebrations. One thing the space is not any longer is dark.
“As you came up to the front desk, it was somewhat of a cave. It was a very enclosed area. As you headed up toward the upstairs on each side of the stairs it was nothing but rows of bookcases all the way down,” says Cindy Freeman, Bricker's director of facilities and services.
And the upgrade, completed in early September 2017, isn't just for visitors. The firm wanted attorneys to be able to have an alternate workspace of their own. The alternatives had been the Starbucks or the lobby of the Sheraton across the street. Jim Flynn, Bricker's new managing partner, says the remodeled space got used almost immediately after a tour given to employees.
“It's funny, on the first day the attorneys were down there from 9-10 a.m. when we showed it and after 10 a.m. they just started floating down and sitting around,” he says. “A lot of people had a hard time picturing it at the before stage. Now that they're seeing it they just love it,” he adds.
Among the upgrades that came with the redesign are conference rooms fully loaded with tech and absolutely devoid of paper. Technology Training Director Tony Buscemi says a big part of the plan was to update Bricker's tech capabilities.
“Kind of the idea was wireless and mobility,” he says. “So, everything in here is wireless and mobile in the sense that a client can bring in information, laptops and project up to any of the screens. The attorneys can bring in laptops, we have virtual desktops, so anyone can come in at any point to any of these screens and project.”
Another change people love is brand new bathrooms off reception. Director of Marketing & Communications Jill Clark says some people in the building have vowed to only use the first floor bathrooms from now on.
Around the corner, the space affectionately known as the “Bricker Room” has also been updated, elegantly showing off artifacts from one of the firm's founders, John Bricker, also a former Ohio governor and US senator.
In the future, the firm plans to tackle the cranberry carpeting that is still upstairs and continue updates, but always with a mind to maintain the integrity of the original build.
“This building is on the national historic registry, so we have to take great care in preserving the building, yet it was important to us to be mindful of modern times and how can we use this space better and more efficiently and effectively,” says Clark. “This was a library area where, once upon a time, our attorneys came down here to look at case law. That's not how they do it anymore. It's a new world, so how can we make this space more meaningful, useful; more collaborative in nature, because that's how we're all working.”
Flynn says the real credit for the update and positive response should be given to Kurt Tunnell, the managing partner he is replacing. One of the initiatives started by Tunnell is an internal leadership development program put on every other year, which was the originator of the idea for the lobby.
“One of the things he did was he challenged (participants) to look at an aspect of our business and come up with a solution,” says Flynn. “The lobby project was one of those ideas. It was one of those group's ideas that we should use that space in a more modern way. Kurt's fingerprints and legacy belong connected to this more than anyone else.”