All across Cambridge and Somerville, young entrepreneurs and creative types are gathering to work in a collaborative environment, sometimes in an effort to save money on rent, sometimes to share creative energy. Some of these shared workplaces have developed organically as a group of friends who just wanted a place to work that wasn’t their home or a coffee shop.
Whether in a refurbished warehouse or a seven-story building, take a look at some workspaces where startups, artists, and scientists get productive.
MIT Media Lab
is the model for many workspaces. Started in 1985, the lab is a gathering place for students and faculty to work on various projects across different fields.
Some of the research here has led to the development of advances in multimedia, wireless networks, the Web, and the One Laptop per Child initiative.
Pictured: GM and Frank Gehry associates consult with Media Lab workers on designs for a new concept car in 2003.
This shared workspace recently celebrated its three-year anniversary. It came together when a dozen artists and small business owners were in the need of space, said director Mike Dacey. Since then, the workspace has attracted more small businesses. More than a dozen teams work out of the 7,500-square-foot space in Somerville’s Union Square, said Dacey.
“People saw the benefit of having a communty of people who were working either in similar areas or circumstances,” he said.
The husband and wife team behind craft brewers Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project operates out of the Fringe work space.
The project rents breweries to make beer that’s sold across the region.
Pictured: Jessica Santos puts labels on the outside of Pretty Things Beers at a Westport brewery in 2011.
East Meets West
Confucian and Buddhist tomes line the walls of the first floor in this bookstore near Central Square,, but on the second floor several MIT alums are working on projects or startups. One group is Modkit, which recently launched a successful Kickstarter to fund a micocontroller programming system. At night, the bookstore hosts open mike nights or musicians for public shows. MIT alum David Kong, whose parents used to run the bookstore, plans to convert the building into a hybrid workplace and live recording studio.
This 9,000-square-foot work space in Inman Square is modeled after the multidisciplinary community at MIT’s Media Lab, said co-founder Jamie Zigelbaum. “We wanted to have a place where performance artists could work next to electrical engineers who are working next to neuroscientists,” he said.
Industry Lab opened in 2011 and has doubled in size every few months, recently expanding to another floor in its brick building.
Half the workers at Industry Lab are graduates from MIT’s Media Lab, said Zigelbaum. Other tenants are Harvard or Academy of Arts graduates. The space recently added a workshop to build items.
Some evenings, the space opens up to display art or live performances to reflect the worker’s diverse passions.
This creative nonprofit organization focuses on science and research community outreach. During the past few years of its existence, Sprout has opened up its space to local groups that approach them with a need for space, tools, or supplies that Sprout can supply.
“It could be folks fixing their bikes or programmers working on projects,” said director Alec Resnick. About 500 people use Sprout’s space in some way every other month, he said.
Located in Somerville, the Artisans Asylum is a community workshop for crafters. Folks interested in things like robotics, woodworking, welding, screenprinting, or making bicycles from scratch have worked in this 31,000-square-foot workshop.
Pictured: Mike Soroka of Somerville (left) and Joel Greenwood of Cambridge (right) worked to weld bushings into brackets that will form a robot’s leg joints.
More than 400 companies work out of the CIC, a seven-floor building in the heart of Kendall Square. It’s the highest-profile commercial startup space in the area.
The team that runs the CIC has recently signed up to run the Boston Innovation Center on the South Boston Waterfront, and is looking to expand the Cambridge center to a second location near the Red Line.
Biotech company BioGen offers space and perhaps funding to biotech startups.
The company offers lab space, support, and perhaps financing for groups in the early stages of business creation.
Pictured: The executive director of the Innovation Incubator, Rainer Fuchs, gives a tour of the original Biogen location in Cambridge.
The Boston-based workspace caters to creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers.
The company is opening a second location in Cambridge’s Central Square in the fall.
Geek Offices has locations in Newton and Inman Square.
Some notable occupants at the Cambridge location include mobile app companies TapWalk and Beerdog.com.
This half hackerspace, half coworking space can found in a dark alley behind an unmarked door of the old brick factory near Union Square. Members of the informal workspace include electronics and open source science practicioners, programmers, designers and artists, musicians and instrument designers, said Jeffrey Warren, who helps run the space.
P.irateship hosts weekly Synth Nights for music and has a pirate ship-shaped Batman signal.