“Charlotte, as its forming its identity, needs to be pulling from all the different sectors, all the different groups — nonprofit, corporate, start-up. That’s what we want to be doing here.” – Sarah Smith, EY wavespace™ Facilitator
Charlotte’s burgeoning business sector, fueled by the growth of Charlotte-based companies and new corporations moving large teams or their headquarters to the Queen City, has created a voracious appetite for new, innovative workspace. Most often, that space is never seen by the general public, reserved for the employees who work there. That is about to change here.
Next week, EY cuts the ribbon on the Charlotte iteration of the firm’s design thinking concept, wavespace™, in The RailYard at South End. This will be the 22nd wavespace in EY’s global scheme.
But, this one will lead a double-life.
“During the day, we’ll have whole day sessions with a client where we’re really accelerating (solutions for) a part of the problem that they have or helping them come up with a new product or strategy,” said EY wavespace facilitator, Sarah Smith. “Then, in the evening, we’ll be serving different community groups and nonprofits and allowing them to come into the space, maybe even facilitating a design thinking exercise with them. Or, it’s just us giving them free space.”
This additional mission for EY’s newest wavespace is treading new ground for the firm.
“Charlotte is leading the way nationally for EY in terms of the ecosystem,” said Smith. “It goes to show what Charlotte is like as a city that a firm like EY wants to be so involved with the community.”
A Public/Private Space
From the onset of the project’s conception four years ago, the Charlotte team, led by Brad Wallace, Principal in Digital Advisory, Malcolmb Coley, Central Region Growth Market Leader & Charlotte Managing Partner and Michael Simons, Principal & Americas Financial Services South Market. Along with wavespace director, Bermon Painter, they wanted their place to reflect their passion for philanthropy and community engagement.
They saw a need to make more business-class meeting space available to the public. And, they set about building it. According to Wallace, the team pitched Charlotte as wavespace location four years ago. Planning began shortly after.
“You need to have a space that everyone can walk into to be able to share ideas,” said Smith. “Because Charlotte, as its forming its identity, needs to be pulling from all the different sectors, all the different groups — nonprofit, corporate, start-up. That’s what we want to be doing here.”
With the space complete, the time for community engagement starts right away. In mid-February, wavespace will reach out to local nonprofit and community groups to arrange tours and to begin reviewing requests for after-hours meetings and events.
The Hand of The Artist
In addition to the design of the space and the technological capabilities it offers, the EY team engaged with Charlotte artists and designers to add their own touches to further upend the expectations of those working at wavespace.
For example, visitors are greeted by one of a pair of murals by local artist Matt Hooker as soon as they step off the elevator.
“[Matt’s mural is] an abstract interpretation of what it feels like to walk into the space,” said Smith. “Imagine you are a banker coming in for a session and you think it’s a normal meeting — you’re not entirely sure — and then your perspective of what you’re working on completely changes. And, you’re thinking about the future in a different way.”
There are other artistic touches at work, as well.
Sound-dampeners in the ceiling weave an intricate pattern meant to reflect the Light Rail line outside and South End’s rail history. Soon, a timeline of interesting moments from Charlotte’s history will also be added.
Perhaps the most unique feature of Charlotte’s wavespace comes from a member of the EY family.
Kiet Pham is a partner and principal in the Charlotte office. His 14-year-old son, Jordan, builds pixel portraits out of Rubik’s cubes. One of his recent projects required 400 cubes. For the wavespace opening, he’s building an EY logo with the same method.
NOTE: Jordan is set to build that on-site this weekend. We’ll be on hand to take photos and will share this in next week’s batch of The Biscuit.
Fintech Is Already Making Itself at Home
EY has private office space on the same floor as wavespace and on the floor above. While this space isn’t open for daily use by nonprofits, several offices will be occupied for the next nine months by the Joules Accelerator and the Carolina Fintech Hub’s WIN (Workforce Investment Network) program, which seeks to increase the number of minorities and women pursuing careers in technology.
Tariq Bokhari, executive director of Carolina Fintech Hub and Charlotte City Council member representing District 6, expects the environment created by wavespace and the new EY office to have a strong impact on those participating in the WIN program
“For those lucky enough to visit, it’s this unique place where you can shake away the constraints of the day-to-day — the experience you expect,” said Bokhari “You’re challenged to think innovatively. For those lucky enough to work there, that is now the basis and reality where they will start their new careers.”
wavespace Launch Week – Jan. 27-31
Next Monday, wavespace will play host to a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will initiate a week of private events introducing the Charlotte business community to this new facility. Wednesday will feature workshops and engagement events for financial organizations. Thursday is focused on insurance and healthcare. Friday is an innovation conference, inviting guests to tour the space and participate in an array of events, including a design-thinking exercise focused on equity and inclusion.
Once the EY team has a chance to catch their breath from launch week, they will be ready to work with local groups on organizing community events after-hours at wavespace.
“[wavespace] is going to be focused on putting our resources where our mouth is and giving those partners in the community a place for collaborating,” says Smith.
Quick Facts About wavespace
- Square Feet: 10,000+ sq. dedicated to wavespace
- Architects: Perkins & Will
- Number of global wavespaces: 22
Take a Photo Tour of wavespace
Photos were taken by Heather Liebler.
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