LocationSomerville, MA, United States
Architects of RecordArrowstreet, Sean Selby
Brooklyn BouldersChief Development Officer–Chris Ryan
Active Collaborative SpaceLouise Levin, Jesse Levin
Wall BuilderVertical Solutions
The pendulum has started to swing and people, especially Gen Y'ers, are craving human interaction, physical community, and socially stimulating environments. An increasing number of startups are hitting the market with products geared toward facilitating face-to- face interactions and community accountability for goal achievement.
At the same time, the number of co-working spaces opening throughout the United States represents peoples desire for less isolation. In San Francisco, entrepreneurs are creating vertically integrated innovation hives where large numbers of people live, work and create together. This generation is coming to understand the power of community, the positive accountability it represents, and the unique advantages of establishing shared economy ecosystems from a human capital standpoint. We are no exception.
Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) builds and operates hybrid rock climbing and fitness facilities to foster environments where diverse groups can be brought together to forge one cohesive vibrant community. We are a brick and mortar organization that puts community and culture first and that is anchored by the power of physicality to stimulate innovation and creativity. The BKB team continuously work to relish the entrepreneurial start-up process.
Blurring the lines between work, life, and play is the everyday mission for BKB as entrepreneurs and our new active collaborative workspace is a manifestation of our efforts to make this a reality for ourselves and for those we encounter who are on similar tracks as our team.
We want to give people a place that is conducive to how our generation is redefining how we do things. Our starting point is the belief that physicality stimulates innovation and creativity. From there we developed the space to celebrate unchecked energy, movement, and to offer stimulation in many forms. Individuals can come in and stake out a spot at the standing desks, connect to Wi-Fi, and jam on their spreadsheets while cheering their friends on that are tackling climbing problems across the way.
They are encouraged by BKB staff to take breaks to jump on the pull-up bar built into the desk and behind them, they may find their peers sitting on yoga balls at the conference table talking about their latest climbing trip or collaborating on a start-up. Where else can you go to do work which you can punctuate with a climbing session, an acroyoga class, a sauna break or an impromptu handstand contest?
The space is raw, loud, and charged with energy. What makes it unique is not the space onto itself but the sum of its parts. There is local street art curated on the walls, music playing throughout, and people bouncing off the wall (literally). It is not a polished, quiet, sterile work environment where you may settle to host a conference call.
This is a unique breed of workspace that is meant to embrace the active individual and to provide a home base for the increasing number of entrepreneurs, artists and creatives who are looking to be less isolated. This space is for people who want to establish more of a balanced, healthy lifestyle and that want to engage, collaborate, and play. This experimental collaborative workspace sits on top of a 120-foot long bouldering wall in the midst of a 40,000 square foot airy climbing facility.
Climbing is a sport that inherently attracts an interesting diverse cross section of people that may not otherwise get to meet. Members spend much of their time in our climbing facilities socializing on the mats in between climbs. It is not uncommon to see an entrepreneur, artist, professional climber, and engineer chatting. Building off of this inherently dynamic environment, we aim to harness this incredible attribute of the sport to actively engage the diverse communities around us.
We will be ramping up a weekly salon series where speakers ranging from engineers to startup gurus and professional climbers will present and run workshops with our community. We have already hosted meetings for the team at Vita Coco, and HubSpot and a few start-ups including Eye-Netra and a group working to create new avalanche safety technology currently utilize the space on a regular basis to punctuate their office time.
In the short time since our Opening only three months ago we’ve had a variety of cultural events in our space including the inaugural HackFit fitness hack-a-thon, a New Balance X Bodega sneaker launch featuring critically acclaimed artist Action Bronson, a local skateboard competition, and a Red Bull trials rider performance. TEDx will be coming to the facility in early 2014 along with many other exciting collaborative events.
Behind the scenes, we have partnered with the Cambridge Innovation Center, one of the most established and experienced collaborative workspaces in the country. Their team continues to offer advice ranging from spatial design to applicable technology to make the active collaborative space more user-friendly. we’re creating a facilitation platform for inspiration, creativity, and empowerment anchored by the physical nature of climbing and fitness and we will see how the experiment goes.
Article by Jesse Levin from Active Collaborative Space.