The high number of job losses At one end of the spectrum, may be part of the attraction, but
and the limited number of employ- more traditional business cen- the community aspect also comes
ment opportunities in the current ters or executive suites provide with networking benefits, allowing
economy make going solo or start- private offices, individual phone members to bounce ideas off of
ing a small entrepreneurial business lines, receptionist services, and each other and to trade services.
an increasingly attractive option— administrative support. At the From converted office floors to refur-
and sometimes, the only viable other end are coworking sites, bished industrial lofts, these spaces
option. Even those with permanent which offer a permanent desk or a give software developers, graphic
jobs who want to telecommute have seat at communal tables—usually designers, writers, startup compa-
to find a comfortable environment with at least one conference room nies, and nonprofit organizations
in which to set up their laptop. available on a reservation basis alike the chance to rub elbows.
For workers seeking to escape the as well as access to the Internet,
distractions of home, the clatter of a kitchen, perhaps some office RON NYREN
a coffee shop, or the expense of an equipment, and free coffee.
individual office lease, shared-office- The short lease terms, often
space providers offer a way out. month to month, and low prices
After their first child was born, Brooklyn residents
Erin Carney and Neil Carlson wanted a comfortable,
social place outside the home in which to conduct
their consulting businesses. To achieve that goal,
this year they opened the Brooklyn Creative League,
located on the third-floor loft of a former factory
building in the borough’s Gowanus neighborhood.
In addition to 45 semiprivate workspaces,
nine private offices are available for small com-
panies of four to six people, and members can
take advantage of a kitchen, a café/lounge area,
office machines, a conference room, and a recep-
tion desk. LiRo Architects + Planners of New York
assisted the founders in designing the space,
which has exposed ceilings and brick walls. Sus-
tainable elements include operable windows for
natural ventilation, low-toxicity paint, and high-
efficiency lighting, heating, and cooling. Natural
cotton insulation on the workstations absorbs
sound. Recycled furnishings include church pews
repurposed as seating for the kitchen/lounge.
Founder of Orange Networking, a Chapel Hill–based nonprofit
organization working to foster equal access to the Internet,
Brian Russell is also the owner of a coworking space in nearby
downtown Carrboro, North Carolina. He worked with the town
of Carrboro’s economic development director to write a business
plan, obtained a loan from the city’s revolving loan program, and
leased a former doctor’s office suite in a two-story brick profes-
sional building. His sources for furniture: IKEA and Craigslist.
Opened in 2008, the space now houses nine private offices
ranging from 80 to 160 square feet (7 to 15 sq m) in size as
well as three conference rooms equipped with presentation
computers and large liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. The
former waiting room serves as additional workspace and a
place to hang out; there also is a shared kitchen.
Toronto, Ontario–based Urbanspace Property Group acquired the Robertson Building,
an early-1900s plumbing fixture factory in downtown Toronto, in 2002. After spending
two years restoring and renovating the structure, Urbanspace’s president, Margarate
Zeidler, cofounded the Centre for Social Innovation with local community organizer
Tonya Surman. Located in 20,000 square feet (1,858 sq m) on the Robertson Build-
ing’s first and fourth floors, the organization provides shared office space for more
than 170 social mission groups advocating for issues such as education, the environ-
ment, health, and social justice.
There are 46 private offices of varying sizes and 40 private desk spaces available
for monthly rates. Zeidler and Surman designed the space with extensive internal
glazing and a light color palette to make the most of natural light. In addition to
kitchen facilities, meeting rooms, and office equipment, the facility includes indoor
bicycle parking, and the building itself has a rooftop garden and a living “biowall”
in the lobby.
Green Desk leases office space in two Brooklyn locations: 21,200 square feet
(1,970 sq m) in a renovated 1891 tobacco and pipe warehouse, and 7,000
feet (650 sq m) in a renovated 1907 tea factory and warehouse. Founded by
Miguel McKelvey, Gil Haklay, Adam Neumann, and the owner of the build-
ings, Jack Guttman, Green Desk opened in 2008 and offers single-desk
cubicles as well as multidesk offices.
Architectural designers McKelvey and Haklay created the open-plan spaces,
which have exposed beams and brick walls and individual workstations
separated by glass partitions. Green Desk members get discounted rates
MEIR PLISKIN/GREEN DESK
on renting the 3,200-square-foot (297-sq-m) loft space at 155 Water Street
for events and parties; the building’s basement is also being converted for
additional office use. Sustainable design features include energy-efficient
lighting and low-toxicity finishes.
In 2006, Denver-based real estate private equity
group BaseCamp Capital, LLC, invested in the historic
19th-century Amos H. Root Building in Denver’s LoDo
District. Andrew Luter, a longtime entrepreneur as well
as the firm’s cofounder and managing partner, decided
to create a coworking site in the commercial building’s
vacant 4,000-square-foot (372-sq-m) basement, which
had once housed offices and storage space. Working
with interior designer Margo Simmons and architecture
firm BlueSky Studio, both of Denver, Luter had the
space gutted, exposing brick, stone, and ceiling joists
to give the space a high-tech feel.
Opened in 2007, the Hive Cooperative includes open-
plan office pods for up to 25 members, a café/lounge
area for collaboration and socializing, and a confer-
ence room. A few blocks from the light-rail and Amtrak
lines of Union Station, the location is also on a major
bike path, and the Hive offers a shower for cyclists to
use. Tenants pay month-to-month rent via PayPal.
Seeking a social alternative to working at home or
commuting to their jobs, Seattle residents and Office
Nomads founders Jacob Sayles and Susan Evans
leased space on the second floor of the Heath Print-
ing building in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood,
to the east of downtown and close to multiple public
transit lines. Local interior design firm Natural Bal-
ance helped repair and repaint the space and refur-
bish the existing kitchen and its old oak cabinets.
The 5,000-square-foot (465-sq-m) office opened
in 2007 with three conference rooms, the largest of
which has a table that Sayles and Evans built them-
selves using scraps of salvaged wood. In order to
provide an organic contrast to the exposed-brick feel
of the space, a built-in bookshelf was added to the
front conference room and the large white boards
were framed with cedar. Couches and tables in the
open workspace were purchased from Craigslist and
furniture liquidation stores.
At its existing business center in London’s Berkeley Square,
workplace provider Regus, headquartered in Chertsey, Eng-
land, wanted to renovate the business lounge in order to
impart a boutique hotel feel that would appeal to mobile
workers ranging from entrepreneurs to corporate CEOs.
London-based Barr Gazetas was the architect and interior
designer, reglazing the street-level facade to enhance views
and encourage casual drop-in use. Completed in April, the
lounge incorporates solid walnut paneling, and the program-
mable glass panels that screen the meeting rooms from the
rest of the space display changing images.
In the double-height atrium, local art collective rAndom
International installed a large, kinetic mirror sculpture. Spaces
include a library, private meeting rooms, a teleconference room,
and individual work areas. Workers have access to administra-
tive and IT support as well as Internet and phone services.
After a departing software company left a significant
vacancy in the office building he owns in downtown
Redmond, Washington, Peter Chee decided to gut
and renovate 25,000 square feet (2,323 sq m) on
three floors to convert into shared offices with a
sustainable slant. Working with Seattle-based design
firm Jones Tsukamaki, Chee recycled 98 percent of
construction debris and specified energy-efficient
lighting; paints, furnishings, and carpets that emit
low or no volatile organic compounds; and bar stools
made out of recycled soda cans in the kitchen.
Steps away from the downtown transit center, it has
achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design for commercial interiors certification (LEED-CI)
from the U.S. Green Building Council. Spaces include
single offices and larger suites, meeting rooms, a
coworking area, and a staffed reception area. Think-
space opened in 2008.
CHUCK CHOI ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY
CHUCK CHOI ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Wurk Times Square opened earlier this year on the 11th and 12th floors of use of internal glass panels to let natural light deep into the floor plates.
1515 Broadway, on the west side of Manhattan. The 65,000-square-foot The designers tailored the 11th floor for media and entertainment compa-
(6,039-sq-m) flagship space of Wurk Environments, a company dedicated nies with a more modern feel than the 12th floor, which is contemporary
to providing temporary offices for businesses, it includes more than 185 but more formal to appeal to corporate, legal, and financial tenants.
furnished office suites. A demountable wall system allows tenants to Tenants have access to on-site concierge services on both floors and can
easily change the size of the space they rent. Designed by the New York book Wurk’s full-service café/bistro/lounge for parties, conferences,
office of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, the interiors make extensive and other events.