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Creative space solution keeps design firm downtown

Daily Journal of Commerce

May 3rd 2007

Creative thinking is what design firm Avenue A | Razorfish trades in - and keeping its offices downtown meant getting creative in redesigning a previously cubicle-heavy space.

"We wanted to infuse the creativity we bring to our clients into our own space," said Jennifer Bracken, managing director of Avenue A.

But the potential space, on the top floor of the 11-story office building at S.W. 400 Sixth Ave., needed to be retooled to fit the firm's need for inspiration. The space had been home to two companies, said Sean Turley, the NAI Norris, Beggs & Simpson leasing agent who brokered the deal for building owner Felton Properties Inc. And it was a typical multi-tenant floor with walls, long corridors and cubicles. The space needed a makeover to appeal to Avenue A.

"We went from more of a traditional office building to a real creative-, PR-, advertising-, Pearl District-type space," he said. "Something that a creative firm would thrive in."

Designed by Myhre Group Architects, the new space will be modern, bright and open. Existing features - high ceilings, large windows - have been paired with innovative materials such as cork and polished concrete for floors.

Focus was on texture and contrast between the elements, said Colleen Veak, a Myhre Group principal who leads the firm's interior design department. While the palette is understated, with natural wood and white used throughout, the firm "really wanted some wow factor, and something that made them feel creative at work," Veak said.

The "wow" factor will emerge in spots like the reception area, where an entire wall of textured white tile will catch the natural light. A gallery space, serving as a display spot for the firm's work, will feature a curved wall with punched openings that offer glimpses into meeting spaces.

"They have done a spectacular job of listening to us," Gail Wright, operations office manager at Avenue A, said of the design team, "and understanding who we are, how we work, and the image we want to portray."

How the firm works will change just by the nature of the move. The firm's current offices are in the nearby historic Wells Fargo Building, where staff is spread across several floors. The move to the 20,239-square-foot space from the existing collection of spaces - which total about 12,000 square feet - will put the team together and add more space for meetings, too.

"Having people on multiple floors was difficult," Wright said. "Our business is so collaborative."

The firm is expected to be in its new digs in June. Turley and Joe Vaughan represented Felton Properties and CRESA Partners' Chris Elsenbach represented Avenue A in brokering the seven-year lease.