Workspace, shared work environment in Gastown, has officially closed its doors for good. The sudden move has left many flabbergasted as Workspace had become an institution of sharing, learning, networking, and to-die-for coffee over the years.
The concept was simple, create a big open membership-based space with optional offices where those without actual office space could conduct meetings or do work in a professional setting. It was the brainchild of Bill McEwen who has since moved on, leaving the reigns in Dane Brown‘s hands. “It definitely hurts to have to close the doors,” he told me. “We had an amazing 3 year run. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Bill MacEwen and I were pulling all-nighters, trying to make sure everything was ready for the opening party.”
My first social media event was BarCamp at Workspace in 2006 and since that time I’ve had the pleasure of participating in and hosting events in this unique atmosphere. Dane’s sentiments regarding the connections and relationships formed at Workspace probably hit close to home for many. “I can’t count the number of true friends I’ve made working here or the number of friendships between others I’ve seen form over coffee or good-hearted debate. My favourite part of all this has always been the people and how they connect with one another.”
Greg Andrews, one of Workspace’s recent acquisitions, first learned of Workspace while living in Alberta. “I likely read [about] it on a chunky CRT in a windowless office deep inside an Edmonton office park that wasn’t within walking distance of anything meaningful except a smelly meat processing plant.” He moved to Vancouver and became of a part of the community almost instantly, thanks to DemoCamp which was being held at Workspace. “Not only [was I] amazed by the environment of an open concept minimalist loft, I was also amazed by the community and the event, that they would really just let some nobody kid who just moved here stand up and speak in front of the room. Met a handful of people that night and at following WorkSpace events that I’m pleased to still be acquainted with to this day.”
To many, Workspace has always stood out. If not due to its amazing office space, artwork, and panoramic views, but for the people. “There are many options for shared offices in the city, but the key feature they successfully cultivated (and even advertised on our cards) was community,” said Greg. “That was a bigger perk than the coffee.”
Who knows what the future will hold, as many businesses and individuals take on “virtual” office spaces but this is truly the end of an era in Vancouver.
“While the physical space will cease to exist, the community that made WorkSpace great is going stronger than ever,” said Dane. “I look forward to seeing members, friends, family, and anyone else who cares to celebrate at the party we’re planning next month. Details will be released in the coming weeks. It was an absolute pleasure to be of service.”
Update December 11, 2009: In a tweet from Greg Andrews: “In case you missed the subtle mention yesterday, the space formerly known as Workspace has a worthy new tenant: Pixar.”