The moment you set foot into CrossCampus, you're greeted by a large reception desk that appears to be built of out legos. Like everything in the 11,000 square foot space in the heart of Santa Monica, this wasn't done on a whim. Every detail from the design of the work tables to the sheet rock they installed in the Founder Room was built with complete intention. Take the lack of doors for instance.
"One of our core, driving philosophies," co-founder and CEO Ronen Olshansky remarked, "is that there's no such thing as personal space at CrossCampus." You can find places for privacy, but private offices are nowhere to be found.
Like most co-working spaces, CrossCampus offers the standard amenities. There's 24/7 access, an open kitchen area, meeting rooms, collaborative work spaces and a presentation stage with a state-of-the-art A/V setup. However, when I sat down with Ronen Olshansky, one of CrossCampus' founder's, over burritos we didn't talk very much about the actual facility. We spent most of our time discussing Ray Oldenburg.
If you're not familiar, Ray Oldenburg is the urban sociologist known for coining the term "the third place." If one's "first place" is the home and their "second place" is the workplace, then their "third place" is an informal public gathering place. A barber shop is your classic third place. According to Oldenburg, third places are essential for the kind of civic engagement and discussing that is necessary for a functioning civil society.
Now, while most co-working spaces strive to foster creative collisions like those found in Pixar's bathrooms, many fail. They do so precisely because they think of their space as an office first and a gathering place second - if at all.
What Ronen and his co-founders, Dan Dato and Michael Kianmahd, are attempting is to marry the second place with the third place. They see their jobs as fostering a culture and space where creativity, innovation and hard work can co-exist. A workplace that is also an informal public gathering place. A campus, if you will.
Memberships at CrossCampus start at $99 per month for Associate Members and go all the way up to $650 per month for a dedicated desk in the Founder Room. General memberships run $350 a month. Potential members can apply in person or on their website. Also, check out their calendar of events for everything from hackathons to presentations from technology stars like Brad Feld (see what I did there?).
(Image courtesy Eliot Phillips, via Flickr)