Acquiring an abandoned building for their new office in 2015, Brains on Fire set a goal of being part of the redevelopment of West Greenville and commissioned McMillan Pazdan Smith for design, interiors, and construction administration. Dating back to the early 1900’s, the building has served as a mechanic’s shop, a general store, numerous commercial businesses, and even an off site storage facility for a dry cleaner complete with a fur vault.
With an existing building made up of several sections that were constructed at different times, all with their own floor levels and quirkiness, the design team used this to set up some order to the space. The plan lays out loose zones of different space types – cozy, open, noisy, quiet – for various types of work. These are arranged around the Creative Lab and gathering space at the heart of the office. Collaboration and individual work can happen anywhere but most importantly, there are options and flexibility. Included in the space is a library, lounge, window seating, roll up doors, and a break room right in the middle of the space to serve as the hub of activity in the office. Different from traditional offices though, Brains on Fire has no lobby. They wanted the space to be welcoming and for the community to be able to look in and see creative work going on. Instituting a new use for that space as a place to display art work.
With an abandoned building with many structures that weren’t up to code, MPS worked closely with the code officials to address challenges that arose from environmental testing, mitigating, and structural tests that were analyzed and investigated. The project also required close collaboration with the city’s economic development department and the city.