Monday, August 29, 2011

The building of the building

The team here at Kitchen Sink Studios gets a lot of questions about our building. It's certainly a unique space and can be the focal point of a conversation, and we love to show it off. So in case you've never had the tour, here's the full skinny on 828 North Third Street.

Nick Hower and Kory Kapfer, the owners and founders of the company, bought the 6,400 square foot building in 2006 with the vision of turning it into the permanent home of Kitchen Sink Studios.

"We wanted to support downtown Phoenix and kind of rolled the dice, before even light rail had been approved. The building itself had sort of a rag-tag collection of tenants in it at the time," Nick said. "There was a guy back in the corner doing stamp collecting...stuff like that. And nothing had really been done to the building since it was constructed in the 1970s. It had low ceilings, dingy carpet, dingy paint — it needed a lot of work."

Nick and Kory hired Plus Minus Studio and Patry Building Company to bring their vision for a new working studio to life. 

We began planning the space immediately but couldn't start work until all the tenants were out. Once the design was 80% solidified, and the last tenant moved out, we secured our demolition permit and went to work. The first sledge hammer hit the building at 8 a.m. on May 1, 2007. While this was occurring, we continued fine-tuning the design, dealt with budget issues that go hand-in-hand with construction, and last but not least continued keeping all of our existing clients happy.

The building was immediately gutted and the existing floor plan thrown out in favor of a new floor plan that stressed open space, natural light and the opportunity for collaboration. 

"We had trucks and equipment in here almost immediately," Kory said. "It was really as close to a complete rebuild as you can get. We messed with just about everything except for the brick walls themselves, and even those were sandblasted on the inside."

Some signature features include:

• The staircase in the main courtyard was built to look like a it came from one continuous piece of steel, and was lifted in by a crane, over the roof to its final resting spot.

• The courtyard was completely redone with new stone, landscaping and a tranquil water feature that's actually about four feet deep to keep clean water flowing.

• Working closely with the team, we were able to create EVERYTHING in 3D in advance, allowing for greater control throughout the process. Even the desks were custom-designed, pre-built in 3D and fabricated.

• All ceilings in the studio are open and exposed, and all data, power, and phone lines drop from the ceiling allowing our desk configurations to be moved at any time without constraint.

• The windows were designed with "aspect ratios" in mind that mirror those that would be produced in our work, such as 16:9 ratios and 4:3 ratios.

• The "wall" of Nick and Kory's office is actually a rotating door that's approximately 10 feet long and sits on two Volvo axles, allowing it to move freely back and forth.

• The "sink" statue in front, and the others in the courtyard, were done by John Tuomisto-Bell, who frequently exhibits at Kitchen Sink on First Fridays. The "sink" statue was custom-made for the studio's entrance and symbolizes the teamwork and collaboration that happens daily with these walls.

Our certificate of occupancy was granted on November 15th, 2007. We sent out a moving announcement and had a gathering of friends, family and clients to partake in blue martinis, a guest VJ and snow machine.

In the summer of 2009, our team began work on our exterior "sign," which was completed over an eight week period and contains approximately 8,000 bottle caps provided from local establishments.

What have we learned? Don’t judge a book by its cover — places with 2x4 styrofoam ceilings can be super cool when properly remodeled. Keep an Excel spreadsheet for everyone related to the project. Don’t have your ribbon cutting party the same week you move into your space. And metal stairs are slippery when wet.

The end result is a studio that we take a great deal of pride in and enjoy working in every day. It's an important muse in the team's creative process and a place where we can both work and play. We hope that it continues to be an iconic feature in downtown Phoenix and a point of pride for the area for many, many decades to come.

If you'd like to learn more about the building, stop by sometime and we'll show you around. Bring a bottle cap — we can always find a place for it!


Virginia Green Branscom said...

It's a harmonious, creative, uplifting space for all you innovative KSS people. Love what you've done and loved hearing about how you accomplished the transformation.