Bruce Rowley has been thinking about shipping containers, but not because he has anything to ship.
The CEO of RSA Marketing Services has designed the agency’s new office at the southeast corner of Waterman and Commerce around the containers, which he’ll use for meeting space in an otherwise open environment.
“They’re for when you need to be loud and when you need to be quiet,” Rowley says he’s been telling his 27 employees.
He says some of those employees have been a little confused about the repurposed containers.
“You’re going to leave the scratches and the logos and everything?” he says they ask.
That’s the point.
“It’s a unique effect,” Rowley says. “I just liked the idea.”
He says shipping containers make sense in an area that has a railroad and, as the street name implies, was one of the city’s early commerce districts.
“That’s kind of historical – what all these buildings were about.”
One of the three containers sticks out the front of the building, which has been repositioned from a loading dock at the former warehouse to a traditional office front along Waterman.
“When you’re in this room, you’re literally outside,” Rowley says.
He says it offers a unique view of the front of the arena, which he calls a “gorgeous centerpiece building for the city.”
“People say, ‘So which direction is the front?’ ” Rowley says. “Because there hasn’t been much development on this side, people don’t think of it that way.”
He says there are three empty parking lots and an abandoned building.
“That’s what faces the arena today,” Rowley says. “It hasn’t really been taken advantage of in terms of buildings around it.”
He calls the cantilevered container the agency’s fish bowl. It’s a meeting room for about four people.
There’s a tiny part in the back of the container that’s sectioned off for one or two people to meet.
“I keep wanting to call this next one Guantanamo, but no one agrees with me,” Rowley says.
Hopper’s Glass created special sliding glass doors for the containers.
There’s 700 square feet within the renovated warehouse that Rowley is talking to tenants about leasing.
“I believe that the highest use for the space is retail,” he says. “We intentionally made it small. It needs to be a business that can survive and thrive with what exists in this district.”
Rowley says it can’t be a business hoping for arena events most nights of the year.
RSA will move into its new offices on Friday.
Though Rowley likes the containers, he says they’re not necessarily economical, because they actually cost more than traditional construction.
He says his Ink Construction contractors have “been really game” for utilizing the containers, but the objects have not been without their challenges.
With just a bit of sarcasm, Rowley says: “It’s been a wonderful learning experience for all our contractors.”