BY SHANNON ROONEY
With a distinct lack of grades and an on-site bar, Jason Goodman may be right when he calls the new 3rd Ward “everything you love about school and nothing you hate.”
After more than a year of renovations and planning, the Brooklyn-based co-working/education center is due to open its massive new space in April at 1227 N. Fourth Street in South Kensington.
3rd Ward classes—which in Brooklyn range from building a WordPress site to building a solar power generator—are open-enrollment, à la carte and affordable. He pegged the average class price at between $50 and $500, though some classes can run over $1,000 and go up to eight weeks in length. “We go straight to making to keep the costs low,” Goodman said. “Learn theory on Wikipedia and come to 3rd Ward to make it.”
The 3rd Ward “curriculum” encourages peer-to-peer teaching. “We teach them the basics of teaching and let them go,” Goodman said. “[The focus is on] people from this community teaching their skills to other people in this community.” He and Deuerlein estimate they’ve received more than 300 resumes from Philly-area subject matter experts. By launch, they will have hired about 150 of them.
The 27,000-square-foot location was once a church and later a factory. Signs of both remain. Local businessman Paul Maiello bought the space in conjunction with David Belt and his firm Macro/Sea. If that name sounds familiar, you have likely read about Belt’s dumpster pools in New York a few summers back.
The space is three stories and includes a deck and – of course – a green roof. Goodman and Jestis Deuerlein, who will be in charge of events at the space, explained that students and co-workers alike will take advantage of the outdoor area. The culinary classroom just inside will serve not only as a space to teach eager students cooking basics, but as a catering kitchen for the events that will be held on the deck.
Down the hall from the culinary kitchen are a series of classrooms Goodman describes as “for making.” The media classroom will teach students how to use software and also how to make it (think: how to use Photoshop and how to develop an app to outdo it). In the printing classroom, students will learn screen printing firsthand. Adjacent to that is the jewelry studio, where you can cast your own wearable art. There is also a textile classroom for the budding Project Runway set as well as a circuitry and hardware classroom where brave souls can learn how to put together robotic arms. Deuerlein promised both a hat-making and shoe-making class. Downstairs is a metal shop and a wood shop with hand tool areas and machine areas that will be available to amateur craftspeople and pros alike.
The second element of the 3rd Ward empire includes a co-working space. Lots of airy co-working space. Occupying the third floor in a setting that very clearly was once a church, Goodman estimates they will be able to accommodate a few hundred co-workers.
The middle of the room will see eight conference tables for daily drop-ins and the perimeter of the room is lined with private offices fit for between two and eight colleagues. Offices will go for a monthly fee and come with conference room rights. Single co-workers and teams alike will have access to the kitchenette as well as private phone booths to make calls without disturbing others.
Goodman said that, as in the Brooklyn space, he expects “design-oriented freelancers” to take up many of the desks and offices. Architects, writers and software developers are among the popular professions at 3rd Ward in New York. The idea, he said, is to foster a sort of start-up culture in the space where emerging artists and businesses have instant access to one another. Work spaces can expand and contract as needed, he said. They also expect artisanal producers to use shop and kitchen spaces to create goods while simultaneously renting space on the co-working floor to handle business and marketing.
Finally, the ground floor will also house an as-yet unnamed restaurant. In addition to serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, he said they will have a liquor license. All the better to have a drink with your new friends from class.
“We want this building to be a hub for the community,” Goodman said. “You can’t really have that without food and drink.”