During the final days of 2014, we signed our first commercial lease on 100 South King Street, Suite 100. With a limited budget and a 6,000+ square foot space to fill, we set out to create a communal office environment where people enjoyed coming to work. It has been almost a year since The Pioneer Collective opened its doors, and over a year since we began the construction work. In light of this anniversary, we are looking back on how the space has evolved since its launch.
We gained access to The Westland Building on February 1st, 2015. However, heavy tenant improvements were underway during February and most of March. During this time, we began working from a separate office in the building, designing the interiors and space layout, sourcing and ordering materials for the construction of tables and desks, and negotiating contracts with vendors. By mid-April, we were able to regularly occupy the space.
As a startup business, we had a tight buildout budget and learned to rely heavily on DIY projects and second-hand sourcing. We spent the rest of April and May putting mileage on a new pickup truck, hauling furniture, salvaging materials, and learning to do a lot of the design and build work ourselves. We also had a laundry list of items to finish before we could operate as a functional office. These included getting our structured cabling and network up and running, setting up the office printer, managing furniture sourcing, deliveries, and assembly, installing fixtures, staining, sanding and finishing our tables & desks, building phone booths, adding decor, and transforming a dark 6,500 foot open room, into a bright, inspiring place, where people would want to work each day.
By June 1st, we were new parents to a one week old daughter and had our first two members working alongside us. We had officially opened our doors. Today, have a community of around 50 individual members, an excellent team of community leads, have had numerous corporate clients use our space, and have had hundreds of people pass through for various events. The Pioneer Collective has now taken on a character of its own as the community within has grown and shaped the space. Following is an overview of the scope of the design work over the last year.
Below are the tenant improvements that were done by contractors.
- Working withing our TI budget, we chose to go with an engineered floor with the look of rustic hardwood. We used Karndean WP313 Ignea Wood.
- White walls
- We knew we needed to lighten and expand the sense of space so chose this white paint: Benjamin Moore's 'White Dove' OC-17. All of the trim was previously navy blue, so this went a long way toward brightening the space.
- Conference room layout
- We designed the layout of the space, the positioning of the conference room, the dimensions and glass wall. Contractors did all of the work building new walls and installing the glass wall and door.
- Kitchenette layout
- We chose how to set up the kitchenette and the materials to be used for the cabinets and counter tops.
After the tenant improvements were complete, the two of us, with a lot of help from wonderful friends and family tackled these items:
- Created the space map and general layout of shared and designated desk areas
- Designed, stained, and assembled desks
- The desk bases were built by Don Goble of Weld & Glue. We've since worked with him on our split conference table designs, and he does great work!
- Sourced and ordered all furniture (chairs, task lamps)
- Mapped out the electrical work
- Set up wireless network, cabling, etc.
- Added "built-in" design elements, ex: rustic wood kitchen backsplashes
- Designed and constructed the phone booths
- Built accessories: shelving, lightboxes, etc.
- Sourced, ordered, and managed delivery/assembly of all furniture
- Sourced artwork, framed pieces, found antiques
Before shots (February & March, 2015)
Lessons we've learned
- White laminate kitchen counter tops are very difficult to keep white, especially in a coffee bar
- While we love how white can work to lighten a space (especially a windowless kitchenette), white kitchen counter tops do not stay clean easily. These counter tops probably see the most wear of any surface in our space and don't hold up well to the constant onslaught of coffee, hot water, food, and condiments.
- Map out electrical needs - and build in some buffer
- Map seating out beforehand so you can match individual power needs to appropriate electricity sources. Some areas of our space were woefully short when it came to outlets and receptacles
- Furniture testing
- Don't buy all of your chairs at once. Give them each a try before committing to and purchasing them in one bulk order. Also, consider financing options to protect cash flow
- Plan out acoustics and soundproofing needs ahead of time
- Map out where you will want background noise, and where you will not. Determine what source you will use for white noise or whether you will need to set up a sound system for music. In areas that are designed for quieter discussions and meetings, make sure you consider materials that absorb sound waves rather than reverberate.
- Deliberately plan flow and circulation
- We positioned our conference room in the rear of our space. Since we often have new clients in our space using our conference room, the foot traffic crossing the space to access the conference could have been mitigated by building the conference room in a less central location
- Lock your branding before you paint your windows.