iBec Creative, a Portland-based web-design and development agency focused on ecommerce and digital marketing, had been looking for a new office space for their growing business for over a year-and-a-half. “It was about finding the right space at the right price, where I knew we could have an awesome office space for iBec,” says iBec founder and President Becky McKinnell. So, when the opportunity to invest in an office space at The Gateway Complex in Portland’s Art District arose, it was the perfect time to take the leap and build a fluid, creative workplace for the iBec team.
The uninviting, dark space required some vision, though. Previously, it had been a medical office with rows of cubicles and low ceilings. It hadn’t been touched since the 90s and needed a lot of work to transform it into the modern, open environment that McKinnell envisioned for her business. No one really knew what lurked behind those low ceilings and dated walls, but Hardypond Construction, a company McKinnell already knew and respected, was a good match for the size, budget, and timeline of the project…not to mention the unknown elements inherent to it.
Communication was a key factor for getting the job done, and a hallmark of Hardypond’s collaborative approach to construction projects. “Understanding our client’s goals is a huge part of every project and involves lots of back-and-forth. We keep asking questions all the way through so we understand what our client wants and why they want it,” says Deirdre Wadsworth, Hardypond President. “Becky had some really neat ideas for the design of the space and we worked with her closely to match her vision,” Wadsworth continues. From little things like providing extra support for unexpectedly heavy sconces, to big things like finding a way to remove the low ceilings and expose the industrial ductwork, ongoing communication was essential for overcoming the project’s challenges and unknowns. “[Project Manager] Dan always returned my call and I always got an email back. When the design needed to be adjusted so the pendant lights I selected would fit with the building’s construction, they worked with me to find a way to do it without increasing the cost,” says McKinnell. “I never felt like I was on a deserted island without anyone advocating for me to get the project done.”
Staying within iBec’s budget was another important aspect of the project. “It is always helpful to know a client’s budget in the beginning so we can lead them on the right path for the project,” says Wadsworth. To effectively work within a budget, Hardypond works with a network of subcontractors to fit the clients’ needs, and thinks about what materials to suggest that fit the project. For example, in the office kitchenette, Hardypond opted for IKEA cabinets, rather than work with a custom mill. Also, when McKinnell’s design called for intricate carpentry that was not within the project scope, Hardypond choreographed a way to prepare the space for McKinnell to have finished later by a local artist.
The iBec team moved into their new office space in October of 2018. Completely transformed from its drab origins, it is now an open, airy, creative space with high ceilings and big windows looking out over High Street. With its flexible workspaces, unique art pieces, and office bar, it is an office that perfectly reflects the iBec brand and can accommodate the business as it grows. “I think the best sign of a successful project is if you would work with a company again. Like any construction project, we had some challenges come up, but I would work with Hardypond again. We love our new office. It feels like iBec,” says McKinnell.