Choosing a Space

Above is the new La Colombe shop near City Hall, one of the many research locations.

Nick and I have been researching and discussing spaces for a while now. Question one of our homework assignment wants us to do heavy research on a space and pretty much any physical space is up for grabs.

I had asked Georgia if she had any space suggestions because she just finished her thesis and seems to know everyone and everything that is involved with this town. One of her suggestions was the old Viaduct, which is an abandoned portion of raised railroad tracks just north of Chinatown. Nick and I checked it out, it was certainly an interesting space. It was really overgrown and provided a very different perspective on the city. However, it seemed like it would be hard to engage with and get really interested in because there are so few people up there (because, technically, I think it’s illegal). After that we decided other dead spaces were out too, such any of the awesome old buildings around town or even the concourse (which isn’t really dead, but somewhat ambiguous).

We ended up settling on coffee shops because we are both interested in small business, community, social interactions and coffee. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out which shop.

Earlier in the week we made a list of all the ones we could think of whether we had been there or not and then did some recon. After spending some time in over 10 different shops we have narrowed it down to two, either Mugshots in my neck of the woods, or Filter in Old City.

We chose those two because they each seem to exemplify two of our interests, small business and community. Filter, as a shop, is a small place with a few web-cam ready computers, a projector and a lot of tea and coffee. The most interesting aspect though is that it is being run by an owner who has only recently opened a second shop and is considering a third. He is still working with the city to get all the permits he needs and get it to a self-sustainable place. We liked this because as a small business in development we speculate that there may be opportunity in doing our research to get involved with more of the business/managerial aspects of the shop. In contrast Mugshots, which is still a small business, seems to be more of a focal point of the community. It offers more than just coffee as well; it sells hot food, smoothies, shakes, it hosts and supports local events, offers CSA services.

Since we were so torn between the two we decided to begin our research with both and reconvene with more knowledge to make the decision. As for now, I’ve included some of the synthesis documents we threw together to help keep us on track.