MIT’s famed Building 20 has long been of interest to academics that make a study of creativity.
To make a long story as short as possible, the university built the place during WWll with the idea of it being just a temporary structure for a handful of researchers from very different fields who needed office space. Because it was provisional, the administration didn't mind when the scientists drilled holes in floors, knocked down walls, and removed ceilings in the course of their experiments.
Over time, the effect of all this—smart people working side-by-side in an open, chaotic environment—made the facility, before it was demolished in 1998, one of the most spectacularly productive creative spaces on the planet. Innovations as disparate as Noam Chomsky’s linguistics department, Akamai Technologies, computer hacking, and what eventually became Bose Audio Equiptment each emerged from glorified shed.
Bridge Street, if Shannon Coghlan is to be believed, just got its own Building 20.
What is coworking?
Coghlan says she first became acquainted with the notion of coworking in 2009 when she was managing custom communications for a publishing firm in King of Prussia. The company employed a lot of freelance writers, graphic artists, and editors, and as she got to know them, she often heard them talking about the trend.
“The idea was to provide creative professionals with an office space that they could share,” she explained last month from just such a space.
Coghlan said that for a creative professional to thrive, they need interaction; to serendipitously cross paths with new ideas and people.
“When you work from home, you lose that aspect,” she added.
Coghlan grew enamored of the idea—“Obsessed,” she clarifies—and so she saved her money, scoured the area for the perfect location, and, after three years of hustle, opened Skylight Coworking on October 14.
Skylight comes to Phoenixville
The 214 Bridge Street space is wide open, handsomely decorated (local painter Elisabeth Olver, who now operates her business out of Skylight, provided all the artwork), and, surprisingly given how recently Coghlan opened, already drawing interest.
“I’ve had coworkers in here every day. And some have taken me off guard. They just show up with a laptop,” Coghlan smiled, adding that the first, and hardest, part of running a successful coworking business is teaching people what exactly it is.
The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday—Coughlin, who opened the space without financing, said she might expand hours when she can afford to hire help—and has several tiers of commitment.
Coworkers can buy a single day in the office for $25, five for $100, ten for $180, or twenty for $300.
Ten days, she expects, will be the most popular purchase.
"It's a good synergy"
Coghlan said she chose to open a coworking space in Phoenixville because the borough’s bars and restaurants make it the perfect environment for the after hours socializing—Coghlan calls it “networking”—that’s so essential to good coworking. It’s all about making connections.
“It’s good to be in a downtown area going through a renaissance or revitalization. And Phoenixville is.”
She added though, tweaking the old JFK line a bit, that she thinks Skylight can help Phoenixville as well.
“I’m seeing what Phoenixville can do for me, but I also want to see what I can do for Phoenixville. It’s a good synergy.“
To get more information on Skylight Coworking visit their website at www.skylightcoworking.com