Approachable and elegant by design, National Life lobby completed

      Earlier this summer Arocordis Design’s longtime client, National Life Group, an Insurance and Financial Services company headquartered in Montpelier, began using their newly renovated lobby designed by Arocordis Design.

    The renovated 4,500 SF Lobby elegantly opens up and makes more approachable a campus wide space used daily by over 2,000 people. Arocordis Design aligned the renovation design with National Life’s youthful #Cause driven culture and sustainability ethos while elegantly connecting to its past. 


     The client sought to lighten up and open outwards this key space to more actively engage building users, the community, and visitors alike.  To achieve this, part of the project included the careful removal of a large hand painted mural dating back to the opening of the building in 1958 and taking down the wall it rested upon to increase visual openness of the lobby.  The mural found a new permanent home in a new gallery space in the Vermont History Museum supported by National Life.

     “Working with Arocordis Design and Steve Frey helped National Life Group create a refreshing new space to welcome all visitors and employees to National Life Group. Steve and his team helped from the visioning process to final touches of the installation. Steve brought fresh ideas and creative solutions. We are very proud of the results and Arocordis Design is a large reason for this reinvigorated space.” – Tim Shea, AVP Facilities & Purchasing

A new front door

     The Montpelier Headquarters Lobby acts as the front door and gateway to National Life Group’s Do Good, Make Good, Be Good focused culture.  The strong curving wooden ceiling lit with a recessed LED soffit reaches out and embraces those coming to the building from the outside, whether stepping off a commuter bus, or returning from a walking meeting around the campus, or from the parking lot.

     “A dramatically lit security desk faced with an elegant mix of glass and stone mosaic tile expresses National Life’s strength, stability, and enduring style. Wooden benches combined with indoor plants set into stainless steel planters, bring the outdoors in. The planters upholstered with black leather cushioning match nearby contemporary lounge seating.  In all our design and planning work, we helped them imbue the lobby with the infectious energy of their growing #cause driven culture and timeless elegance. In the end, we are as passionate about their brand as they are!”  – Stephen M. Frey, AIA – LEED AP

      Other aspects of the project included creating clearer and stronger connections with the nearby Campus wide cafeteria and classroom area by enhancing relationships with a redesigned modular carpet pathway. The renovation also opened up an expansive wall area by the major circulation path easily seen within the lobby. It opens on to the whole lobby space, a perfect setting for revolving art work and brand messaging.

Sustainability, interior environment & nature near

      A key aspect of the project embedded in every action is paying attention to sustainability related issues like building with healthy materials, recyclable finishes, and protecting indoor air quality during construction.  After construction, indoor air quality was further boosted on a continuous basis by the addition of 120 SF of planters recessed into custom millwork benches some with upholstered seating, others without.  Solar shades are installed in the floor to ceiling exterior curtain wall to assist in reducing early morning glare, as well as assist in reducing the glare on the security camera screens at the desk. 

      Retrofit LED lighting downlights replaced CFL downlights installed as part of an earlier 2008 LEED EB renovation project.  Along with the general lighting provided by these fixtures, LED tape lighting provides indirect uplighting in two levels of ceiling coves helping galvanize the space. Super efficient LED wall washers replaced linear fluorescent wall washers to light up the signature art and branding wall.  Decorative LED pendants were installed over the security desk and seating areas. 

      Part of the less is more design charge lay in exposing more visible square footage of the original 1958 era polished stone floor complemented by the installation of a swooping recycled content and fully recyclable modular carpet flooring with unique technology.  

       A centrally located screen wall near the security desk with multiple video screens now shares curated company wide content. The security desk also has state of the art lighting controls, and updated screens connected to campus wide cameras, emergency systems, and more. 

Part of a years long modernization effort

      This project is part of their ongoing effort to actively steward National Life's Living Brand of Do Good, Make Good, Be Good with the goal to support employees with experiences and facilities to help them do their very best work, while increasing engagement and fostering a strong culture.   Also they recognize actively updating their Place matters in attracting and retaining the very best and brightest team members from around the country.

       Notable recent architectural interior work for National Life also done by Arocordis Design includes renovating the Headquarters campus wide serving cafeteria and multi-purpose dining room, common area design, workplace and branding strategies for their three business unit floors totally 150,000 SF, and 4,000 SF of restroom groups spanning five floors of the 1958 building. Arocordis Design also assisted them with redesigning the Lobby of their Dallas Offices in 2016

About Arocordis Design

      Arocordis Design and Stephen M. Frey AIA, LEED AP practice high performance workplace, commercial and residential design. He is building a practice notable for its mission driven design process, focusing on constructing enduring sustainably minded dynamic work cultures.

      Other work includes commercial and interiors projects for American Meadows, AllEarth Renewables, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Rural Edge, Vermont Technical College, Montpelier Public Schools, Maplehill School, and the City of Montpelier. Stephen Frey speaks and writes often locally and nationally about work, workers and workplace design with a sustainable mindset. He is a practicing watercolor artist

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