In an age where offices come with ping pong tables and private conference rooms are built with transparent glass walls, the company building management company WeWork seeks to create something even more collaborative and fun. Along with architecture and design firm Studio Dror, they are designing a New York City office space, called WeCross, to foster cross-pollination between design, architecture, and technology companies.
WeWork—who manages office spaces in New York and San Francisco (the kind with open layouts, big windows, in-office beer taps, and yes, ping pong tables)—teamed up with Dror to create a different sort of office on the eighth floor of Soho's 175 Varick Street, a WeWork building already full of freelancers and small businesses. The idea: to open a floor of the building specifically for design and architecture firms in a space that encourages collaboration between all parties. WeWork agreed to build out the space. Dror, whose ten employees will move in October 1, will select the firms and freelancers to join them.
“The space will promote synergy thinking, impromptu meetings,” explains Melanie Courbet, who is in charge of business development at Dror. The layout is somewhat different than the other floors at 175 Varick, with a larger communal space, called an “interactions space,” that will hold rows of desks for 150 individuals. Glass-walled, fully wired conference rooms surround the open floor plan. WeWork plans to design simply, with white walls offset by hardwood floors and other natural materials. Haworth and Fritz Hansen pieces will line the hallways and there are talks to purchase an intra-office laser cutter. Currently the floor is under construction; the only remnant of the building's former life are the massive white columns. WeWork typically dedicates the last six weeks of the construction period to carefully design everything from the kitchen space to the bathrooms.
Courbet says that WeWork is already handing out leases to design firms, off-site university studios, and well-known architects. Indeed, there's something appealing about WeCross that goes beyond an office ping pong table or a tricked-out conference room. It's a promise of dialogue, of everyday collaboration, of a workspace designed to make designers feel at home.