Wednesday, March 11, 1998

Avalanche's new office

You could imagine my surprise when I entered Avalanche's office, Wednesday, March 11, expecting to see the same "lofty" environment typical of Soho/Silicon Alley web shops. But this is a kinder, gentler, saavy-er, new Avalanche. And if you noticed, its not Avalanche Systems anymore. No,siree, they offer Solutions now. Of course, I didn't just pop on over to Avalanche to ogle their new space (but you should, and can read more about it in my column section on the website). They were having another opening as part of "On-Screen," a series of exhibitions at their offices, exploring facets of interface.

This show highlighted the work of Yoshio Itagaki ( who juxtiposed his impressions as a child, growing up in the ancient capital of Japan, where he saw "old Buddhist statues and temples everyday...and watched Japanese animation programs" into his vision of future Japanese society.  Upcoming shows include a group of painters whose works have no art signifiers; and a joint Razorfish/Avalanche group show with 4 people from company. Peter described the actual structure of "the Omnicom and Razorfish deal" and seemed quite content about the fact that now he can focus again on what he does best -- design. Meanwhile, he has a top-notch real quality crew lead by Troy Tyler (COO, from Boston Consulting Group). His wife, Christine Muhlke, Managing Editor of Paper Mag stopped in our Machine briefly and said "Hello." Shortly after Lori Schwab (VP Biz Dev, United Digital Artists) and I went out into the rare cold night for a warm delicious dinner.

Peter Seidler, founder of Avalanche in 1994 greeted me at the door and took me on an exclusive tour of the new office space. Just one flight up from Avalanche Systems' old offices, Avalanche Solutions' space feels like a great big efficient, friendly hug. Nathan Elbogen, the architect who has taken Avalanche from its space below, to this new loftiness, told Peter he pays attention to the 40 million cubic inches in the space. And it shows. The glass offices for all directors lined one side of an interior wall. This Arm laid next to the expansive Back for all creative and technical people to cohabitate in. Their desks, the Ribs, snaked horizonatally up the floor where they terminated at the Brain, where the mainfram-ish networks hummed. Right down the Back, suspended from the ceiling was the Backbone, literally and figuratively, of the company -- the wires and cables that connected everyone's work stations. There is a pod-like, brain-storming room just to the right of the ComputerBrain room. Its oval shape in which Peter visualizes silver bean bag chairs and soft neon-like lighting, will be conducive to chillin' out or connecting with other brilliantly mellow workers.  The other side of the interior wall was lined with Meeting Machines: small 3 - 5 person meeting rooms. There was a speckled thick rubber covering on the floors in these rooms with one networked computer, deep cheery wood tables, burlap and white frosted walls, newspaper cardboard ceilings, with fabulous steel Restaurant-style Kitchen doors with the oval window encased in thick rubber. The overall sense was of high-tech rustic coziness.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)