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Four Firms Share Space Creatively

The open floor plan is conducive to exchanging knowledge and business referrals.


The office of Abramson Teiger Architects in Culver City has an open floor plan in more than one sense.

The design firm shares the space with three other firms: a building contractor, a commercial real estate broker and an interior-design firm.

"This is the creative-space version of an executive suite," quipped architect Trevor Abramson, co-owner of the 4,000-square-foot building, which features a bow-truss ceiling and glass walls to maximize natural light.

The other owner-occupants of the building are general contractor Lynn Silverman, owner of Silverman Construction, and property broker Lance Levin, proprietor of Lancelot Commercial & Industrial Brokerage. The fourth "roommate" is Hoffman Vest Judaken Interior Planning & Design.

Each firm has its own separate space--even if the boundaries between offices are not immediately apparent to outsiders--and pays a separate rent. Beyond that, however, the firms share resources, such as libraries, as well as information in casual conversations.

"We have afternoon discussions with the contractor" on architectural designs that the office is working on, "whether it's his project or not," said architect Douglas Teiger, Abramson's business partner. "It's knowledge sharing."

And with different professionals working in related fields, casual conversations often turn into business referrals.

Silverman has built several projects based on Abramson Teiger's designs, and has referred them for work as well (although Teiger is quick to point out that the contractor must go through the competitive-bid process like everyone else). Similarly, the architects have gotten referrals for work from both the real estate broker and the interior design firm.

The informal "teaming" approach, in fact, is a longtime practice for Teiger and Abramson, who have shared space with Silverman for 10 years. They moved into the former sewing-machine factory with the other two companies six months ago.

The four-in-one approach to office space also helps when assembling a guest list for entertaining, Abramson said. "We throw great parties, because you're getting people from four different but related fields."

The only downside, perhaps, is the burden on the receptionist, who must greet visitors to four firms, even though she is employed only by one. "She probably gets a little burned out sometimes," Teiger said.

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