November 24, 2011

Quick Left & then Go Straight ~ Meredith J. Potter

Courtney Walsh

What do you get when you start with an empty space, add a little Quick Left and mix in a bit of tres birds workshop?

Boulder, Colorado: Walking into the Quick Left building after a chilly ride, I didn’t know what to expect.

It was the opening party for the new space. Quick Left is a web engineering and software consulting firm here in Boulder. When I saw people dressed nicely, I instantly wanted to shed my blue and white polka dotted ski jacket, bike helmet, and sweet little black backpack.

The grand opening of Quick Left was not only classy but with delicious brie cheese to boot!

The first thing I noticed was the empty feeling of the building. It felt as though it had been deeply cleaned and gutted. It looked and felt simple, minimalist, and aesthetically sound. It was like the dust from the old still lingered a bit as the newness set in.

As I settled into the space, with friends and new people, I drank a glass of water and noticed the walls between work spaces. They’re made of plastic bottles! Mike Moore, the architect and builder, told me that employees hand-picked them off the recycling line in Denver.

The plastic bottled wall creates a sound barrier between work stations. Collin Schaafsma, founder of Quick Left, said that their old space was too noisy and it was difficult to focus. The walls help remedy this.  The fluorescent beams supporting the work area are from Home Depot, and were going to be thrown away.  Everything is made from recycled materials.

I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the wine bottles at the beverage stand.  All were from Colorado! It changed my perception and assumption that all wine served at parties is from California or Italy. I decided to have a glass of red wine and cheese on crackers.

There’s a dirt packed berm and sitting area running alongside the space, closest to Ninth Avenue. The dirt bench brings things literally down to earth. It’s a nice contrast with the fluorescent painted beams that are part of the work space. According to Mike, who built the seating, it’s made entirely of packed dirt with some olive oil.

What struck me was that Mike was both architect and building contractor on the project. The Quick Left folks knew Mike was the one for the job. He knew the building already, as he personally laid the wood and cement floor 7 years ago.

What other aspects of the space make it eco as well as people friendly?

According to Ali Schultz, the operations manager:

The white boards are magnetic and can move around the office so we can take our notes with us. If we had a meeting in the conference room, we can take those notes back to our workspace. The space was built with more collaboration and work/life balance in mind (indoor bike rack, showers, healthy food in the kitchen, vitamix, juicer). It was built with sustainability in mind (recycling, composting, garden is an ecosystem all it’s own, with drains that feed excess water to the outside beds, edible herbs!, superior air quality and ample natural light).

According to Mike Moore:

When the Quick Left senior management team approached me to design the space, their main intention was to create a space for the employees of the company that was a healthy work environment. Healthy employees = stronger company.

The garden concept came out of the need to create informal meeting zones that connect the workers to natural systems. The snake like form came from a place of movement, flow, and organic unpredictability. We constructed the garden completely out of earthen materials. The retaining wall is made of dirt from Boulder County. We used the best soil/underground irrigation system, and regional plant species to create a bed of oxygen producing, air moistening, life promoting vegetation.

After a lovely evening at the Quick Left party, I bundled up and headed home.  It was great to have met and mingled with people who care about health and the earth. I learned that with some concentrated effort, eco and people friendly spaces are possible.




Meredith J. Potter lives in Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys biking, yoga, art, hiking, and exploring her environment. She works on supporting local agriculture, movement toward a healthier life for the planet, and joyful celebration of life! A background in education and yoga inform her current perspectives and lifestyle.

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