Design Locked Down: Modern Lockers Complement ULI’s Open Space

Design Locked Down: Modern Lockers Complement ULI’s Open Space


The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global non-profit based in Washington, D.C., was ready to make a big change in its office landscape. The 81-year-old organization, which provides leadership in responsible and sustainable real estate development, decided to move their office to a new space with a completely new concept that lead project architect Ruben Smudde calls “transparent and balanced,” with dedicated areas for quiet work, collaboration, and meetings.

The Urban Land Institute reception area and meeting rooms, designed by STUDIOS Architecture.

“It is important to provide a diversity of environments,” says Smudde, Associate Principal, STUDIOS Architecture DC. “Diversity because different people have different needs: from open to closed spaces, from bright to dark and from quiet to spaces filled with buzz.”

"There’s definitely more buzz than before," says Tim Cooper, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, ULI.

 “[Our 100 employees] have the ability to choose where they workthey don’t have to go to the same old spot every dayand I think there’s energy in that,” Cooper says. 

Urban Land Institute's hall and library, designed by STUDIOS Architecture

The renewed emphasis on collaboration began even before the space conversion.

“We let our employees vote on the color palette of the office, as a way to let them get involved and feel they had some skin in the game in helping shape their new work environment,” Cooper says.

Heartwork Building Block Secure Modern digital lockers and locker wall for the Urban land Institute.

The colors they selected were white, gray, and taxi-cab yellow. And those are now the colors of their 180 Heartwork Modern Building Block Lockers, which have become an integral part of the office design in both form and function. In the old space, the employees had traditional offices and desks. Each employee now has a locker to store his or her personal and professional belongings. There are 80 extra lockers for ULI members who want to drop by and work – something ULI is encouraging with its new open space. 

Heartwork’s heavy-duty steel lockers “fit in like a glove,” Cooper says. They helped ease the transition to the new office by making employees feel secure about their belongings, allowing them to concentrate on their mission of providing “leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.”

“The quality of Heartwork’s product,” Smudde says, “the simplicity of the locking system and minimal aesthetics all contribute to a durable product that withstands long-term use without becoming dated (unless the iconic yellow cab color changes from yellow to turquoise within the next 10 years!).”

In a world of hot desking, remote conferencing, and open floor plans, dedicated staff storage is increasingly important. Heartwork’s signature lockers provide the secure and stylish stowage needed for employee and member belongings. Made entirely of commercial-grade steel like their coveted bookcases, Heartwork lockers are GREENGUARD Gold certified for better indoor air quality and contribute to a flexible workspace.  

Photos by Bilyana Dimitrova


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