For some, an office is just an office. A space with desks, chairs, a printer. It’s a place to get work done. And then it’s a place to leave.
For us at the Better Block, an office is an opportunity to change the world.
Ambitious? Perhaps. But we’re nothing if not dreamers.
When we saw the space at 700 West Davis, a converted Conoco station right at the edge of the Bishop Arts District, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to change the world. Not only was it practical, but it was aspirational. The bones of the structure lend themselves to a part-makerspace, part-office/co-working space, part-gathering ground for people interested in the built environment. With it, we are creating a space that serves as a gathering ground for urbanists, young and old, deep into the profession or brand-new to it. As the Wild Detectives is to writers/poets and the MAC is to artists, our spot will become the gathering ground for new urbanists in the area. Our headquarters will not only have hands-on classes for students to learn how to work with digital fabrication, but it will also include space where created pieces can be put to the test. We’ll have a variety of programming that will invite the community in and help it feel empowered to make change.
We are working with Gensler to help bring our vision to reality. The partnership is part of Gensler’s gServe initiative. Through this program, individuals and small teams of designers and advocates work with their local communities through volunteer and pro-bono work. Focused on growing a grassroots network of socially conscious designers, the firm’s gServe projects aim to use design to create a healthier, more connected, and resilient world.
Part Office: Yes, a portion of the space will function as an office for our employees. We want the aesthetic to reflect our work philosophy: DIY, gritty, and practical. Most of the furniture elements will be fabricated with our CNC Router, just two bays over from where we sit. For the other pieces, we are working to ensure we can support local businesses. For example, our chairs came from a partnership with Sleek Modern Furniture in Addison.
Part Co-Working Space: We want to work with you! (Or, at least, beside you.) We are renting out a few spots to creatives who are looking for a little area to call their own, the idea being that creativity spawns creativity. We know it’s hard to find inexpensive offices if you’re on your own or a small startup. We want to provide that space while also learning about all the things people are doing to make Dallas better. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in renting some space.
Part Venue: We want to be a gathering ground, a communal space that’s shared among like-minded people who are working toward a better tomorrow. We have already tested the waters by hosing an event called BarPolitics talking about urban planning and one about CityMAP. Over the two nights, more than 200 people came, sat out in the 90-degree heat, and shared conversation and beers. We had everyone from kids to City Councilmembers. Soon, we’ll post our calendar of events for upcoming speaker series, watch parties, lunch and learns, and night markets, our first of which is this Friday. Join us for an Oktoberfest-themed event with sausages, beer, a fun run, and local vendors.
Part Makerspace: The two back bays of the space are workshops. Filled with wood, tools, and a CNC Router, it’s a playground for builders. We want to use that playground to teach and empower the community. We will be hosting classes for students of all ages, from inner-city high schools and area colleges to national organizations and institutions. Once we’re up and running, we’ll be able to do these classes monthly.
We want to ensure the space is completed in such a way to entice young and old to learn more about new technology that can transform and rebuild neighborhood blocks.
Thanks to Gensler and to our landlord Craig Schenkel, the Better Block headquarters will become a place where people in the community can learn, dream, and create.