Inside Kinzie Group's New Shared Office Space
When Kinzie Group principal Steve Spinell decided his company needed new office space, he found inspiration in co-working and designed the seventh floor at the Boylston Building in River North for sharing.
On Friday, we toured the space and snapped Steve in his new digs. Built in the 1920s, the office building at 116 W Illinois St was once home to Boylston Steam Specialties, which manufactured steam pressure reduction valves and also housed the company's offices and a showroom. Tired of what he called a "hodgepodge" of spaces on two floors at 212 W Kinzie, Steve (whom we snapped) contacted the Boylston Building's owners and cut a deal for 68k SF on the seventh floor.
Steve's friend and former business partner, Lakota Group principal Scott Freres, drew up plans for the space and the build-out took nearly five months to complete. Kinzie moved in in April, with Lakota following a month later. The space is shared with Reva Development Partners, Goodman Williams Group, Duncan Associates and Manhard Consulting.
The combined expertise of the six companies sharing this space includes property development and management, landscape development, architecture, urban planning, safety, receivership, zoning, fiscal analysis, engineering and sustainability. Steve says this has resulted in the various companies' networking together and providing each other with advice and guidance. "If I have issues regarding landscaping development, I can bring in Scott's team to a conference room and have a meeting." Some cubicles in the workspaces were built with clear glass panels to provide a measure of privacy.
Sharing office space has cost-saving advantages, as well. Steve says the companies share one receptionist, common bathrooms, a single kitchen and equipment such as scanners and printers, all of which maximizes efficiency. Flex spaces were designed for employees to drop in, do some quick work and return to the field for meetings.
Drawing on Scott's designs, the build-out of the space preserved much of the exposed brick and timber inside, allowed for what Steve calls "killer sunlight" to enter, and is energy efficient. Steve's office (shown) is enclosed—"my voice carries," he says—and contains a desk built from reclaimed barn lumber that he can also use as a conference room.
All of the offices inside the Boylston Building are accessible via stairs or an attendant-operated passenger elevator (click here to take a ride), which is serviced monthly and provides a smooth ride. This is one of two still in service in Chicago (the other is in the Auditorium Theatre). When unattended, people working in the building have to use the stairs to access their workspaces. Steve says he's an early riser and often gets a nice workout arriving before attendant Tony Roman, who tells us he works the elevator from 7:30am to 5:30pm Monday through Friday, with breaks every half hour and a 2:15pm lunch.