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"Lobby Project" activates bland ground-floor space in NoMa

The launch of the "Lobby Project," featuring works by artist Gabriel Mellan

The Lobby Project is the latest example of the District’s effort to put vacant spaces to good use.

Part of DC’s Office of Planning’s Temporary Urbanism program, the Lobby Project – located in, you know, the lobby of 1200 First St. NE – is being positioned as a three-month cultural salon of sorts. The building is occupied on its upper floors by some DC agencies and other tenants, but the lobby, prime ground-floor real estate, was "a large space with some plants in it, but no furniture or places to sit down," says Rachel Davis, the NoMa Business Improvement District's director of marketing and events. A number of speakers, classes and activities, from art exhibits to talks on craft brewing, are slated for the space this winter.

Tonight marks the kickoff of the Nerds in NoMa free speaker series and will feature OP director Harriet Tregoning, BicycleSpace’s Erik Kugler and verdeHouse’s Morgan Greenhouse discussing various trends shaping cities now and in the future. The event starts at 5pm; more information is available here.

The Lobby Project effort “demonstrates that with a very small investment, you can turn a space that was hardly used into a space with food, art and great conversations,” says Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa BID, in an email to Elevation DC.

“Throughout the day, it is delightful to see people relaxing in the lobby, working, and chatting with friends,” she adds. “So far people are loving it.”

Key funders of the Lobby Project include NoMa BID and DCOP. Additional sponsors include Ayers Saint Gross, Washington Project or the Arts, carpet manufacturer Interface, Uncle Chip’s Cookies, Union Kitchen, and the building’s manager, Polinger Shannon & Luchs, and its owner, Principal. Union Kitchen and Uncle Chip’s are overseeing the food and beverage offerings for the Lobby Project, with other contributors like Ravioli Revolution, which along with Union Kitchen is providing food for purchase at this evening’s event.

The Lobby Project’s original three-month tenure could be extended, according to Davis.

NoMA BID has sponsored Summer Screen, a beer festival and other events in recent months, with an eye toward promoting new and vibrant destinations in the emerging DC neighborhood. 

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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