Former racquetball club becomes COVID-friendly Phoenix co-workspace

We are creatures of habit. We still need a place to gather and build culture. So, while the world continues to fall in love with the new “work from culture,” there are still places that invite the sense of community we crave. Take Five55 Melrose, the former fitness center and racquetball club that served midtown Phoenix for 30 years.
Today, it has been transformed into a COVID-friendly co-workspace. And just in case you are wondering, it still has remnants of the club, including courts that have become office and lounge areas to the center walkway, which is now a gathering point for presentations and networking.
The cutting-edge design, the third of its kind in the Phoenix area, is the brainchild of leading workplace solution provider Faciliteq and its sister company, BWIQ (Build With IQ). By respecting the history of the original building, the companies brought the space into the future, including Underfloor Air Distribution (UFAD), which helps improve air circulation throughout each workers’ space; 16 private office suites that allow for personal privacy for each team, while still maintaining an energetic, community atmosphere; moveable walls with modular power; and data and bleacher seating in the center of the communal workspace.
BWIQ Development President John Shinners gives us the inside track on the secret to creating workplace communities in today's ever-changing landscape.
Give us a snapshot of the Five55 Melrose brand.
Our development brand’s goal is to become a part of vibrant, creative communities and become known for our unique modular interiors. For Melrose, we’ve designed easily configurable space for growing firms; and delivered healthier under-floor air that allow the tenant to adapt to their own work style and layout.
What type of consumers are you targeting?
Small- to medium-sized creative and tech-focused companies.
How does the overall design cater to what today's consumers are looking for?
People still need a place to gather and build culture. We bring a sense of community, but with an element of personal privacy within an open floor plan.

We think the “new-normal” requires buildings to be flexible for new technology, ease of access to connect devices and adaptable for the long-term.

What kind of adjustments have you made to cater to your customers in this new landscape?
It is already designed: The entire floor plate sits atop a raised access floor, which allows for limitless movement of air and power distribution. Work where you want in your own space.
What kind of conversations about the "new normal" are you having with your employees? Customers?
We think the “new-normal” requires buildings to be flexible for new technology, ease of access to connect devices and adaptable for the long-term. People desire connection, but want privacy through-out their day. We offer both.
What's your long- and short-term strategies?
Deliver a fun work environment in a very cool space that accommodates a variety of tenants. As for the long-term, we want to become a community destination for presentations and community events, after-hours mixing and build the phrase, “I’ll see you at the Five55.”
What's the best piece of advice you can offer other brands on how to deal with what's happening now?
Future proof your space, by becoming flexible.
Is there a location that really shows how the brand interacts with the community and customers? One of your favorites?
Our Melrose building is a great example of how we can bring community and business together—both with flexible interiors and an investment for a community presentation space.
Walk us through how and why your locations are designed the way they are?
They are designed through the same flexible adaptability with underfloor air. Why? We believe this is the right approach for a healthier and comfortable working layout.
Take us through your construction and design strategy.
We seek to build interiors without fixed walls, which allows us to provide the most adaptable interior. Future reconfiguration involves little to no “tear down.” Mechanically, we used underfloor air distribution for a healthier and less expensive airflow distribution during our new norm.
What's the biggest issue today related to the construction side of the business?
The lack of skilled labor. By utilizing materially objects in a factor we can deliver and install in a shorter period, bypassing numerous trades used in conventional construction. Which, in conclusion, is a result of saving both time and money.
Talk about sustainability. What are you doing?
By utilizing digital modular construction, we eliminate construction waste by 80%.
What type of opportunities do you see moving ahead?
We believe a flexible modular office and utilizing a healthier air delivery will attract customers focused on employer health and flexible to grow.
What trends are you seeing/expecting?
We're expecting smaller offices or offices that are shared by multiple companies. The new normal for today’s business industry is hybrid hours. Working from home for a few days allows shifted work hours in the office that stagger with your teammates and coworkers.
What's the secret to creating a "must visit" location in today's competitive landscape?
The secret is a trendy and cool new building, something to show off, post and share the new space with friends, family and the community.
What's today's consumer looking for?
Clean and efficient space. Consumers are looking for a space that adapts to technology and easy to personalize in their day to day.
What's the biggest item on your to-do list right now?
To continue to keep everyone healthy, but marketing toward developers and construction firms the benefit of our approach.
Tell us what makes your brand so unique?
Not only do we just do development and modular projects, but the bottom line is we are a part of the Q Companies. We can fully furnish an entire building with furniture, floors, walls, etc. We are a kit of parts and a one-stop shop for your new office space.

One-on-One with...
John Shinners, President, BWIQ Development

Describe a typical day.
There is no “typical day.” As part of an evolving group, I mix my days with presenting and “storytelling” about our development approach. When we are in construction; there are the challenges of schedules, design decisions and reviewing the work. Lastly, I look for the next opportunities or partners to continue the development journey. It’s a mixed skill set.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Being proud of a finished product that is an elegant design statement, an asset for the community and knowing I was part of a talented team of people—something that will always be there. Something that sets a new standard for work-community balance.
What's the best advice you ever received?
It’s all about the people you work with; take time to acknowledge your team.
What's the best thing a client ever said to you?
“You exceeded our expectations.”
How do you like to spend your down time?
Hiking, road biking, drawing and weekend handyman stuff.

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