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Franklin Lobby 1 Conference Room celebrates one year

What did UCOP ever do without Lobby 1?

From March 2011 to March 2012, the room has been booked solid for 266 out of 286 days. That adds up to 436 meetings, 1,636 meeting hours, and lots of happy customers.

“I’ve been working this room since it opened, and knock on wood, there hasn’t been one complaint,” says Juan Conrado of Building Services, who spends 40 percent of his time supporting Lobby 1. He is so closely associated with the room that he is known as “Juan Lobby 1.”

As Conrado magically flips configurations, opening up or folding down tables and chairs (often multiple times in one day), within 45 minutes he can turn a WorkFit yoga studio into a meeting room for 110 that rivals any rental space in a commercial hotel.

Hard-working crisis command center, and more

The popularity of Lobby 1, now celebrating its one-year anniversary, is painfully evident to anyone who’s ever tried to nail down the coveted space for a couple hours. And the room has accomplished a lot in its short life:

  • It provides the entire UC system with a state-of the-art crisis command center for any emergency, from earthquake or protest to H1N1 outbreak, that might occur locally or at any UC location.
  • It saves the university an estimated $180,000 in annual room rentals for meetings of local and campus groups, training, WorkFit classes and more. In fact, dollars saved have almost covered the upfront cost of renovating the room, about two years ahead of schedule.
  • It has inspired a new culture of community, convenience and service universally cheered by everyone associated with the room, from those who remodeled the space to those who use it.

“We can now host systemwide meetings, with people coming by BART from all over the university to experience the Office of the President,” says Michael Keleman, facilities asset director. “We are keeping our people safe and comfortable here so they can do their jobs.”

When USE Credit Union vacated the space in 2009, it provided the perfect opportunity for OP to create an emergency command center, the primary purpose of the room, says Chief Risk Officer Grace Crickette.

“It looks pretty, but behind the scenes it’s a hard-working command center,” Crickette adds. “We hope we’re not in emergency mode very often, so it’s great that we could design the room for other purposes, too.” Users are notified that events may be canceled in case of an emergency.

Before Lobby 1, UC did not have a central, robust facility that — with advanced telecommunications and an independent power source — could continue to function in a major earthquake or other disaster and maintain communications with other UC locations. The room is key in supporting a network of emergency response teams and providing them with regular training.

It was Risk Services funding that, in part, financed the remodel of the space. Keleman oversaw the renovation, transforming the room by preserving existing structure and power systems to cut costs. He enjoyed the project, he says, because it was a challenge to create a beautiful, dual-function room as economically as possible.

Great support and convenience

Satisfied customers are quick to praise the Building Services team that provides support for the room, including Conrado, Administrative Services Center Supervisor Donna Collins and Loreaner Lopez.

“I love the fact that the room is so flexible,” says Janine Ford-Crocker, who administers UCOP’s WorkFit exercise program. “Everything pops up and down, and the chairs are so comfortable you can sit in them all day.”

Other conveniences abound, like the ease of booking through Outlook, time saved not traveling to outside meeting rooms, the easy-to-use AV equipment, and the fact that there’s no need to log that large outside meeting group into iVisitor, one by one.

“It’s the natural place to have a big gathering, the holiday party, Friday breakfasts,” Keleman says. “I think it’s one of the smartest investments we have ever made.”

In case you’re thinking ahead to that big meeting you’re hosting next year, stay tuned: With the high demand and accelerated cost savings Lobby 1 has generated, Building Services is exploring the possibility of creating Lobby 2, the former Reuse Center, for WorkFit and other meetings.

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