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Program History

Glass Lobby Art

The First Impressions Program was established in 1998 to address the decline of federal building lobbies and plazas around the nation, by extending the vision of Design Excellence into existing federally occupied buildings.  The First Impressions Program spotlights lobbies and plazas extending to public areas that shape a visitor’s “First Impression” of the federal government. 

More than just an aesthetic agenda, the program is smart business practice.  The First Impressions Program strengthens our assets, makes our buildings more profitable, and improves tenant satisfaction.

While Design Excellence Principles are readily obtainable in new construction, its charge to create or maintain facilities which are “distinguished” and “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American National Government” is also within the purview of our existing owned inventory, facilitated by the First Impressions Program. 

The Program relies on its Regional First Impression Champions (RFIC) along with Regional Chief Architects (RCA), to foster collaboration with various program representatives such as;  RHPO’s (Regional Historic Preservation Officers), RFAO’s (Regional Fine Arts Officers), Property Managers, Project Managers, and Asset Managers.  This collaboration provides continuity regarding sound design and construction practice, employing materials, methods, and equipment of proven sustainability. Properties which are economical to build, operate, and maintain, are more cohesively realized, and therefore make a better First Impression.

Many First Impressions improvements take place in GSA Service Centers and greatly depend on decisions made by Property and Project Managers. These are daily decisions that affect the way buildings look and operate: carpet, paint, fixtures, equipment.  In isolation these decisions are seemingly small yet they have a tremendous cumulative effect.


Mary Shearill-Thompson
(202) 208-1827

first impressions,lobby,lobbies