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First look: T3 Advisors' new Innovation Studio in Boston

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 16, 2013 10:15 AM

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The commercial real estate consulting firm T3 Advisors just moved in to new digs on the Boston waterfront last week, and I stopped by on Thursday to check out what the firm is calling its "Innovation Studio." T3 is part of the migration from the suburbs to the city (its last office was in Waltham), and what they're trying to do in their new space is blend their own employees, "experts in residence" from the startup scene, and visitors who may be passing through Boston — along with hosting regular community events.

Founder Roy Hirshland, right, says "it's not an incubator or a co-working space. It's a lab for the workplace," with donated furniture and fixtures from companies like Steelcase, Soft dB, and Reflex Lighting Group. In exchange for the goodies, "we let their clients to come in and see what they look like in a real workplace." Conference room technology lets multiple people plug in their laptops to a flat-panel display, and easily switch back and forth among them. Interior lights automatically dim when there's sunlight streaming in from outside. Sound-masking technology from Soft dB uses sensors to adjust the level of background music based on the activity level of a room. And there are a variety of different environments for small meetings, casual conversations, private phone calls, individual work, and social events like cocktail parties. None of T3's employees has a dedicated office.

"The idea is, 'Why do you need an office if you're only here 30 percent of the time?'" Hirshland says. In about 5,000 square feet of space, he says there are "spots" for about 60 people, far more than the typical cubicle-land arrangement. While "friends of the firm" will be able to work in the space on a transitory basis, Hirshland says there isn't really space set aside for fledgling startups to operate out of. The Boston architecture firm Visnick & Caulfield Associates designed T3's new space.

Working out of the Innovation Studio part-time are investor Nicole Stata of Boston Seed Capital and Dan Allred of Silicon Valley Bank. (Both Boston Seed and SVB have offices in the 'burbs — in Wellesley and Newton, respectively.) Hirshland hopes to add another two or three of those experts-in-residence, along with "lots of informal guests."

Among the events being planned for T3's new Innovation Studio are a saké tasting and a panel discussion about what Boston needs in terms of infrastructure to attract more innovative companies to the city. The firm works with a number of clients now based in the Innovation District, including LogMeIn, Battery Ventures, and EnerNOC.

Photos below:

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About Scott Kirsner

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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