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Construction tour: Workbar's new shared office in Central Square, slated to open in late May

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 7, 2013 09:40 AM

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I stopped by the future home of Workbar in Central Square yesterday to get a look at the construction progress. The shared office space is scheduled to open by May 20th, according to founder Bill Jacobson, right. It'll be the second Workbar location; the original is in Boston, across the street from South Station. (That location is probably best-known as the home to Facebook's proto-outpost in Boston.)

Workbar offers memberships that start as low as $30 for a day pass, and go up to $2400 per month for a four-person private office. There are shared kitchens, copiers, and printers, as well as high-speed Internet access.

The new Cambridge location, on Prospect Street about a block from the Central Square T stop, will be much more visible than Workbar Boston, which is below street level. Cambridge has what Jacobson calls a "business-centric café space" at street level, which will feature cushy sofas, shared tables, whiteboards, a coffee bar, and digital signage that will show who's in the office today, as well as list upcoming events like workshops and mixers. A "welcomista" will be there to greet prospective Workbar members and show them around the space. On the mezzanine level, there's a glass-walled room that can be used for training sessions or private meetings. (The first-floor space used to house Crimson Hexagon, a social media monitoring startup that moved to Boston.)

workbarexterior.jpgWorkbar also has the complete top floor of the building, which Jacobson has carved up into three sections. "The Study" is an area for quiet "heads-down work," in his words. It has views of the Boston skyline. "The Commons" is an open area for teams working together. In the back of the building is "The Switchboard," where it's OK to make phone calls or conduct Skype videochats. (There are also private booths for phone calls there, and an area that will house a few treadmill workstations.) The top floor also has two small outdoor patios, and a kitchen that will have a communal table.

As is the case with the Boston location, Jacobson expects the denizens of Workbar Cambridge will be a mix of consultants and freelancers; early-stage startup companies; and individuals or teams from bigger companies that may not yet have local offices (Facebook is one example), or have offices in distant suburbs.

Jacobson says the first and fifth floor spaces are about 13,000 square feet in total. Analogue Studio of Boston worked on the interior design, and Anderson Porter of Cambridge was the project's architect. Here's a rendering of what the first floor will look like once completed. (Click to enlarge.)

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A few pics of the unfinished interior, and another rendering, are below.

First floor café space (the bar being built here is at the center of the rendering above, underneath the Workbar logo):

workbarcafe.jpg

"The Study," on the fifth floor:

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A rendering of what The Study will look like once complete. The glass-walled conference room in the left-center of the rendering is also seen at the left-center of the construction photo above. (Click to enlarge.)

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One of two fifth floor patios:

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A row of four phonebooth rooms in "The Switchboard":

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Jacobson also says that Workbar Boston will be expanding later this summer, adding a new direct entrance off of East Street, along with new conference rooms, phone rooms, offices, and event space.

(Construction photos are mine; renderings are courtesy of Workbar and Analogue Studio.)

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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