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Move-in Day for Strands Labs, Seattle

Today we moved into our new office at 4143 University Way NE - right on "the Ave", the heart of Seattle's University District, and literally a stone's throw from the University of Washington.

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We occupy the top floor of a three-story building, with 3400 square feet to grow into, and two (!) decks, one of which overlooks the Ave.

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Yogi and I - and others who will be joining us soon - will work in of one of the back offices while construction continues on the front office area (several interior walls have been removed to open up the space facing the Ave).



We'll be using a motley collection of furniture until we get some new "system" furniture, which we hope to order by the end of this week ... and which probably won't be delivered and installed until mid-June. In any case, we have plenty of room to grow, and growing the team will be increasing in relative priority as space-related issues are settled.


We've been finding it rather challenging to determine how to configure a system of furniture that achieves an appropriate balance among occasionally conflicting goals - providing similarly-sized and well-delineated individual workspaces, promoting collaboration and teamwork between workspaces (and the people who occupy them), maximizing the "access" to natural light and offering sufficient storage. We also want to find the right balance between wanting to configure the space that best suits the people and the work in Seattle and not wanting to deviate too far from configurations used in the other Strands offices. A learning and growth opportunity, along several dimensions.

Of course, leasing office space was also a learning opportunity for me. Early on, we decided that being close to the UW campus would offer long-term strategic benefits, enabling us to more easily attend talks and other events on and around campus, and making it easy for UW students and faculty to visit - and perhaps work with - us. Even within the narrowed search space of the University District, there were a number of options available, in various shapes, sizes, locations and prices. This was a pleasant surprise, given recent reports that Seattle is the hottest office market in the country.

Typically, real estate brokers - commercial or residential - operate on a commission basis. Although a prospective tenant may utilize the services of a broker, they are paid by the landlord, based on the lease terms that are negotiated with the tenant. While this may be the usual arrangement, I wanted to have a commercial real estate broker who would be paid by us, to ensure that he would be working solely on our behalf without any conflict of interest. We were very happy with the tenant representation services provided by Tom Baker, of Office Lease, who helped us identify features and evaluate options along dimensions that might not have occurred to us, and ultimately helped us arrive at a decision on a space that we believe will best serve our long-term needs. Dennis Counts, of Yates & Wood, who represented the landlords, was also very helpful throughout the process.

The landlords, Sunny and Sarah Lee, have also been very helpful and accommodating throughout the process. We were grateful for their willingness to reconfigure the front space, and for their ongoing responsiveness as issues have arisen during demolition, reconstruction and refinishing work proceeds in the space. We look forward to a long, happy relationship with them, as well as with our new neighbors downstairs - Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches on the second floor and the Ave Copy Center at street level.

Listening to NPR on my way home this evening, I was reminded that today is May Day, on which some people celebrate International Worker's Day. We did not take a holiday or participate in a demonstration today - in fact, we didn't even have a celebration (we'll have to address that oversight tomorrow)! We are still not quite in a position to work a "regular day" at the office yet - we still have a few connectivity [Yogi has figured out how to alligator clip us into an Internet connection (!)] and logistics issues to work out. But today did mark an important milestone for us, as we set the stage for innovation at Strands Labs, Seattle.

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