While visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s home near Chicago, Brickyard founder Dave Waller was fascinated by the experience of squeezing down a dark corridor into the dwelling’s most magnificent room. So when his Boston-based firm-which creates television commercial special effects for advertisers such as Volvo, Target, and Puma-moved into its current space three years ago, he sought to replicate that contrast. At street level, Brickyard’s only identification is a spray-painted sign. But inside, the space is a spectacular mash-up of vintage materials and high-tech functionality. "Perception is everything," says Waller. "If I can get the message about our work across before people even get to know me, then half my work’s done." Aesthetically, he says, that message is "Victorian industrial," but professionally, he hopes it spells "full-service, quality design."
The building itself was erected in the late 19th century as a livery stable, but today only the original floors remain intact. The interior contains false beams made from steel trusses salvaged from a bridge, a wooden trolley used as a table, an enormous collection of vintage signs along the walls, and six suites fashioned from reclaimed materials such as corrugated steel and chestnut. "You have to have a huge library of existing materials to put something like this together," says Waller, who opened a second Brickyard office in Santa Monica four years ago. "It’s not like I took pen to paper and designed it all."
He did, however, build a scale model from Legos (which creative director Geoff McAuliffe then used to draw up blueprints), coming up with a layout that maximizes functionality. Meeting rooms are designed so that clients can face consultants, rather than looking over their shoulders at monitors. Even patina and dirt serve a purpose: Retrofitted stained glass and industrial windows filter light to reduce computer-screen glare.
Like its interior, the firm’s digital handiwork is a mix of technical savvy, colorful energy, and plucky humor: Take the Hummer that disappears behind a tree, or Paris Hilton’s sexed-up bite of a juicy Carl’s Jr. hamburger. As a physical manifestation of its craft, Brickyard’s environment is a metaphor for its multi-layered, meticulous, and seamless productions. "When you look at something like stained glass up close," Waller explains, "you can appreciate the time it took to create. Today our tools are very different, but even in an age of mechanization, our jobs aren’t so different from these ancient craftsmen’s."
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,700
NUMBER OF WORKERS: 15
FIRST THING TO BE RESCUED IN A FIRE:
A 14-foot-long 1914 Exeter Street Theatre sign. When Waller found it in a Dumpster, he borrowed power tools from a road crew to cut it into pieces. It took him three taxi trips to get it home.
DECOR ELEMENT THAT SAYS IT ALL:
ON THE STEREO:
Elton John’s "Funeral for a Friend" and the Dropkick Murphys
PHOTOGRAPHER: MARK MAHANEY