Workplace vs. Workspace

Today two magazines found themselves in ironic juxtaposition on my desk. Together they reflect the seismic shift happening in the creative professions and a question we’ve been pondering for years. What kind of environment best inspires creative endeavor?

The Sept/Oct issue of Architecture MN (You can pick up a copy at the AIA offices in International Market Square.) pursues one answer to this question by featuring several beautiful, local workplaces of the super-size variety. Two advertising agencies; Carmichael Lynch and Modern Climate, and two architecture firms; Cuningham Group and Ellerbe Becket show what can be done by a professional with a substantial budget to house an army of creative talent.

The cover of the November issue of Dwell on the other hand boldly proclaims a glorification of the live/work option. Of course buying a home like those featured in California, Ontario and Japan might cost as much as renovating a Minneapolis agency but both strategies can be achieved on the relative cheep so the exercise is really to explore the differences in the two directions.

Simple day-to-day choices compound to take us in unexpected directions over the long-term. Will media conglomerates get bigger and bigger until they are the heartless but efficient equivalent of industrial agriculture? Will a vast population of nomadic, independent contractors coalesce into the much predicted 1099 culture? I suspect the human tendency to push at the extremes combined with a Darwinian expectation that no niche goes unfilled will cause both options to come true. The only question is where do you do your best work – fancy agency, humble home office or someplace in the middle? We’re volunteering the term “micro-studio” for that middle ground and hope to share the creation of ours in future posts.


Carmichael Lynch by MS&R (navigate through “portfolio” to “offices”)
Modern Climate by 20 Below Studio (project not featured and the site is challenging)
Cuningham Group by Cuningham Group (project not featured but their work for Hunt Adkins is)
Ellerbe Becket by Ellerbe Becket.

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