Brains on Fire, Adaptive Reuse

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Brains on Fire is a marketing and creative agency located in Greenville, SC. Acquiring an abandoned building for their new office in 2015, they set a goal of being part of the redevelopment of West Greenville. Dating back to the early 1900’s, the building served as a mechanic’s shop, a general store, numerous commercial businesses, and even an offsite storage facility for a dry cleaner complete with a fur vault. Brains on Fire commissioned McMillan Pazdan Smith for the design, interiors, and construction administration of their new location.

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 sought to create order in the space. The plan lays out loose zones – 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. The new office also features a library, lounge, window seating, roll-up doors, and a break room to serve as the hub of activity.

As with any abandoned building, many structures were not 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 after discovering the need for new infrastructure including sidewalks, lights, and landscaping.