Step inside HEIST’s California auto shop turned office space designed by Medium Plenty.
- Design Firm: Medium Plenty
- Client: HEIST
- Completion Date: November 2020
- Location: Oakland, California, USA
- Size: 5,500 sqft
- Population: 15 – 20
In search of a new headquarters, HEIST, a flourishing visual storytelling and production studio, set their sights on an old auto repair shop in a burgeoning Oakland, CA neighborhood. The studio tapped Medium Plenty to lead the renovation of the industrial, 5,500 square foot building, and create a versatile, open workspace interior set inside a gleaming exterior metal shell. Key original features of the auto shop were preserved to frame modern, approachable spaces with a broad range of uses from production services to neighborhood community gatherings.
The goal for the renovation was to create an approachable, flexible space for a range of activities including ideation of powerful visual campaigns to making creative content in production and post production. The first challenge was activating the empty industrial warehouse with a specialized program of collaborative, elegant spaces that could also be used to engage with the surrounding community through neighborhood events.
The existing concrete floors were refinished and sealed. Other original warehouse features, like the exposed metal beams, were preserved to frame modern, “white boxes”, designed as private suites for meeting, shooting space, editing and finishing. An insertion of volumes in the space was a key solution to help break up the space and create areas within them. The kitchen/break room, with added mezzanine above, adds square footage to fill in and define the space while also being permeable and functional as a meeting area that overlooks the workspace below.
Custom furniture elements were fabricated, including an angular entry bench, clad with warm wood, complimenting other natural materials used on railings, stairs and perimeter suite doors. The closed rooms with glass and accents of wood line the perimeter of the double height space to emphasize the expansiveness of the room. Functional spaces like the bathroom and kitchen/break room were completed in varying earthy pink tones to delineate them from the bigger, open plan workspace.
A second challenge was maximizing the light and openness of the space on a limited budget. The design solution was to include as much glazing as possible at the main facade with enormous glass sliding doors at the entrance and conference room, which makes the indoor/outdoor spaces feel even more connected. With a substantial glimmering facade, this design choice provided a welcoming approach for visitors, meeting the owners’ vision for an inclusive, collaborative hub.
Additionally, the design team was tasked with creating a secure, yet inviting community space. The blurred boundary between outside and inside with glass doors is further accentuated by an outdoor trellis that sits within a spacious courtyard allowing for public and private events such as neighborhood outdoor movie nights, local vendor pop ups and art exhibitions. The outdoor walls, adorned with local art, create a protected, secure courtyard from the surrounding buildings.
The Owner and CEO of Heist was the design team’s direct contact and decision maker. He had very specific input on their workflow, which allowed Medium Plenty to tailor the spaces to their exact needs. Questionnaires, as well as interviews, with employees and key management helped Medium Plenty create the most functional workspace for Heist.
Due to the original use as a working auto repair shop, the entire interior needed to be gutted to start fresh. The existing concrete floors were refinished and sealed. This helped to maximize the light and openness of the building on a limited budget.
The design solution was to include as much glazing as possible at the main façade with large glass sliding doors at the entrance and conference room which makes the indoor/outdoor spaces feel even more connected. Post-production edit suites were designed for acoustic autonomy and able to accommodate clients and staff for working sessions and edit reviews. Creating a safe outdoor communal space achieved via a large custom automatic sliding door at the street that creates a secure courtyard when closed for various events such as pop-ups and movie nights. There was also a need for secure equipment storage that was created.
- Lightfactory lighting
- Menu lighting
- Hay table
- Arco chairs
Custom furniture elements were fabricated, including an angular entry bench, clad with warm wood, complimenting other natural materials used on railings, stairs and perimeter suite doors. The closed rooms with glass and accents of wood line the perimeter of the double height space to emphasize the expansiveness of the room. Functional spaces like the bathroom and kitchen/break room were completed in varying earthy pink tones to delineate them from the bigger, open plan workspace. Commissioned murals on the courtyard walls help to connect the outside and inside.
Some health and wellness initiatives and furnishings include a variety of plants and a connection to the outdoors with plenty of natural light. The space also features adjustable standing desks and a filtered water station.
The branding of the building is specifically non-descript from the street. The interior features a wood sign on the wall above the custom entry bench.
Overall Project Results
Medium Plenty’s design approach accounted for the evolution of the design process and engagement with the stakeholders. From the outset they mined the client for information and gather all input possible. By having this information in hand from the beginning, they were able to create a design that takes these factors into account.
The building is very flexible which was intentional but also allows the for space to adapt as needed to accommodate more people or larger events on occasion. There are two large open spaces divided by the double height space that contains the kitchen, entry and mezzanine above such that you could have separate tenants or events if needed, or utilize one side for a different function such as a recreation space with ping pong and the like.
The space gets so much natural light and truly feels connected to the outdoor courtyard area via the large glass windows and sliding doors. This was the intent but it is even more impactful than expected. The slatted trellis along the outdoor walkway creates lovely shadow play throughout the day adding depth to the design.