Fast Horse is an award-winning, fast-growing, brand agency in Minneapolis with a unique work environment. As explained in the business case, employees have no assigned desks. “Ponies”, as Fast Horse worker are know, are encouraged not to occupy the same seat two days in a row and are encouraged to extend their “work space” beyond the office to the coffee shop, bar, or home as they choose suitable environment for the work that they are trying to accomplish on that particular day.
In response to this method of work, a unique program description of S,M,L, XL closed and open spaces was developed by the team. “Closed” engendered visual and acoustic privacy to various extents. “Open” could include indoor but non-enclosed, public spaces and outdoor spaces. The entire construct is a serious of spaces with varying sizes and varying degrees of visual and acoustic privacy.
These spaces not only permeate the interior but the exterior as well. The architectural artifact that embodies this idea of spaces of varying light conditions, privacy and size is contained in the exterior stairway that are functionally fire exits but much more. The fire exits stairs were placed between the street and the front facade of the building in response to the small footprint of the existing building and the tight constraints of the site. Design as an “open to the elements” fire exit, they act as the major visual marker for the building, a shade buffer for the southwest light, and create several spaces of varying sizes and exposures that can be used for sitting, taking phone calls, and walking. This “transition” architectural space between street and building allows for various levels of privacy, indoor/outdoor transitions, infinite permutations of movement patterns in support of the Fast Horse philosophy of work.
Just like the Southwest facade responds to light, street and program, each facade of the building responds to its changing context. Fast Horse’s varying facade of window patterns and color reacts to the monochrome and repetitive nature of the brown and grey clad surrounding condominium buildings. The exuberant graphics of the black and white corrugated metal panels in a harlequinesque pattern, bright orange corten corrugated steel and indigo blue rooftop penthouse give a large visual presence to the smallest building on the block, helping to animate the entire street and block.
Another author has remarked about Fast Horse that “Jugaad innovation will become a much more common way of creating things in the future where ‘scarcity is the mother of invention’ A building like Fast Horse show how architecture will stay in that race.” The severe physical and budget constraints were the instigators of great creativity on the part of the client that the architecture team responded to. As articulated in the business case, this approach has shown tremendous results even in the first years of operation.