Working Together

A circa-1800s Bywater warehouse enjoys new life as a co-working space.
A casual seating area greets members and visitors at The Warehouse, a 10,000-square-foot co-working space in the Bywater neighborhood. The space is furnished with a mixture of low-slung leather West Elm sofas and chairs made by Matthew Holdren from wood salvaged during the restoration of the building.

Web designer Erin Allen counts among her co-workers a lawyer, a freelance photographer, and staff members for a construction company, an event production business, an architectural firm and a technology company.

It’s a diverse mix — each leases space at The Warehouse, a circa-1800s building in the Bywater that over the past 200 years has served as a warehouse for both cotton and furniture.

In 2011, after many years of abandonment and neglect, one of the building’s walls collapsed onto Dauphine Street. The building was quickly slated for demolition by the city. A group of neighbors alerted now co-owner Albert Walsh, who immediately decided to purchase it and transform the once-dilapidated eyesore into a co-working space that he christened The Warehouse. The space opened in May 2016.

LEFT- Erin Wilson, operations manager, says she enjoys being the first person people see and talk to when they come into the space. Her metal factory-style desk is adjacent to the entry seating area. RIGHT- A black paper stone counter in the kitchen is offset by a salvaged vintage sink and a blue, metal St. Claude sign placed on top of the white IKEA cabinets.

In recent years, co-working has increased in popularity, including around New Orleans. The Warehouse is among several spaces in the city that have found a niche in this brave new world populated by freelancers, solopreneurs, seasonal workers and small companies looking to save money and share equipment, as well as — more often than not — knowledge and ideas. At The Warehouse, an uber-hip location, minimal cool design and a roster of events for members and the public combine to create a space that’s at once homey and creatively energizing.

“I wanted to make a space that I wanted to work in,” says Allen, who in addition to running her web design business from The Warehouse, also tackled the furnishing and decoration of the space and handles its marketing.

“I like the concept of being around other people.”

Allen used minimalist design to help keep member costs affordable and used current office design trends as her inspiration. The result allows the 19th-century industrial architecture to take center stage.

Exposed brick walls, wood beam ceilings and polished concrete floors are married with a mix of clean-lined furniture from IKEA, West Elm and Modern Market, as well as custom pieces — some made by Allen’s friend Matthew Holdren, who specializes in using reclaimed wood — employing wood salvaged from the site. Members and visitors are welcomed by a cozy, residential-style conversation area with low-slung, brown leather West Elm sofas and plants and artwork by photographer and Warehouse member Bryan Tarnowski.

LEFT- For the restoration of the building, The Warehouse worked with Tracie Ashe, partner and project manager at Studio WTA. Web designer and member Erin Allen also handled the decoration and furnishing of the interior. RIGHT- A bike rack provides safe storage for members who ride to work.

The perimeter of the space holds two phone booths, 22 private offices of varying sizes, and suites for member companies requiring room for multiple employees. Semi-private desks, dedicated desks and communal tables populate the open space. Allen and Walsh converted metal watering troughs into water features, each with a lush collection of plant life, that serve as pleasant noise reducers.

“When I walk in each morning, it’s a sense of relaxation, creativity, productivity,” says co-owner Steve Nutting, who joined business partner Walsh after serving for many years in the Coast Guard. He says he enjoys being around so many different members of the business community.

An interior bike rack provides safe storage for members who prefer to ride to work. The sleek, black paper stone counter in the kitchen is offset by a salvaged vintage sink and a blue metal St. Claude sign placed on top of white IKEA cabinets adds to the sense of place.

Pieces by local artist Jessica Normington decorate the walls throughout The Warehouse, as part of the ongoing effort to host rotating shows. Regular yoga classes are held on the new rooftop deck, which soon will include a bar for parties and events.

LEFT- There are 22 private offices of varying sizes and suites for member companies requiring space for multiple employees. RIGHT- The building was built in the 1800s and has previously served as both a warehouse for cotton and furniture.

“I’m not a person who likes to be in my own office by myself,” says operations manager Erin Wilson, whose vintage metal, factory-style desk sits in the open area not far from the entrance.

Block letters on the desk welcome members and visitors with a simple greeting, “Hello,” and a vintage metal fan on the right side of the desk looks as if it came with the place. Wilson says she enjoys being the first person everyone sees and talks to when they visit or sign up as members, many of whom have been personally recommended by existing members.

 “I’ve been able to collect the people I love to work with in one spot,” says Allen. “It is exactly what I want an office to look like.”

At A Glance

Company Name:  The Warehouse

Address: 3014 Dauphine St.

Office completed: May 2016

Architect: Tracie Ashe, Studio WTA

Interior designer: Erin Allen

Furnishings: IKEA, West Elm, Modern Market and custom

Size: 10,000 square feet

Main goal: Creating a variety of offices and workspaces

Biggest challenge: Noise reduction

Standout feature: Exposed brick wall and 360-degree skylight

Categories: Real Estate, Technology, The Magazine