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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Frye

The Third Place and Work

I recently spent 24 hours in Nashville, and a quick visit to Nashville’s Pinewood Social got me thinking about where we live, work and play, and how those spaces are starting to merge.  This is something I think about a lot because my company designs restaurants and offices. I suppose this fits into a larger societal picture, where there’s not really a separation between work and personal life anymore for many people.

Which brings me back to Pinewood Social in Nashville. This place has developed a loyal and fast-growing fan base since brothers Ben and Max Goldberg opened this “place to meet” in 2013. It made many people’s “must do” lists for Nashville after Reece Witherspoon gave it a shout out in The New York Times in May.

Pinewood boasts a bowling alley, pool, full-service restaurant and bar, karaoke room and coffeehouse, plus community tables and other spots to plunk down your laptop and work away. All under the same roof.

When I walked into Pinewood Social on a Thursday afternoon around 1 pm, there were 20-somethings having coffee, kids bowling with their parents, and people of all ages working on their laptops, oblivious to the noise around them.  

It was like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s “third place” concept on steroids. If you’re in Nashville, don’t miss it.

But you don’t have to go to Nashville to check out this new kind of third place. Charlotte is scheduled to get its own version of Pinewood Social next year when Queen Park Social opens on South Blvd, complete with a bar, restaurant and bowling lanes. (It will be designed by Cluck.) I love the idea of this concept coming to Charlotte, and I predict it will be very popular among Charlotte’s working professionals, families and just about everyone else.

I think we’re going to see more of this type of space in Charlotte, too. For one thing, more people are working for themselves or working remotely, and that can breed loneliness. A place like Pinewood Social or Queen Park Social offers a sense of community while you’re working, even if it’s just chatting with someone while you order lunch. It’s also a good place to meet up with collaborators or clients. You can have a meeting over coffee, and then head to a table to keep working. Or finish work and start happy hour a few feet away – zero wasted drive time.

Another reason I think this trend will continue is that younger workers don’t always feel the need for a firewall between their work and personal lives. So a place where work and fun meet makes perfect sense to them.

Need a quieter space to get work done?  Co-working spaces are booming in Charlotte, too. My friend Jennifer Belk’s Loom Coworking in Fort Mill is attracting lots of professionals from south Charlotte who want to get work done away from home or their solitary offices. Co-working concepts are more business-focused than places like Pinewood Social, but they still provide the social opportunities of a third place.

My other prediction is that companies will continue to want office spaces that l0ok more like Pinewood Social. The trend has been around in tech companies and Silicon Valley for years, but it’s branching out. Everyone has heard about the work playground that is Red Ventures right across the border in South Carolina. But smaller companies, including many of our clients, want to incorporate this idea of playing at work, too, whether it’s with pool tables or design elements that inspire creativity and encourage collaboration. We recently designed an office for a staffing firm that includes a foosball table, a break room built into a large shipping container, and a reception area featuring the front end of a semi-trailer truck. The company, Blue Bloodhound, specializes in staffing for trucking and shipping companies. The point is to keep the focus on business while bringing an element of fun that inspires conversation. 

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