WeWork is an international company that provides shared work spaces to freelance workers, entrepreneurs, and people who need office space for their businesses from time to time. There are several options to choose from: you can rent a “hot desk,” which is a guaranteed space in a shared office, a “dedicated desk,” which allocates a specific desk to you, or a private office. WeWork also offers a “custom build-out,” or a space whose entire layout is tailored to meet a company’s specific needs.
It’s clear from the moment you look at the WeWork website that their mission is to create a working community by connecting previously solitary workers. “We humanize work,” the website proclaims, “reintroducing face-to-face collaboration, inspiration, and generosity into our global network of spaces every day.”
Now, the visionary company is taking another leap forward to expand its customer community. It’s launching a new school in New York City in fall 2018.
Rebekah Neumann, WeWork Founding Partner and Chief Brand Officer, writes on the company’s blog that the school, which will be located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, will be “a new conscious, entrepreneurial school committed to unleashing every child’s superpowers.” It will initially offer classes for children ages three through nine, and in the fall of 2019, the school will begin welcoming two-year-olds as well.
“We are passionate about the opportunity to bring families together as parents and children work and learn together around the world,” Neumann explains. “We hope to reimagine the very idea of a classroom as elementary school-age children begin to identify their callings and apprentice under employees and members already living that dream. Curriculums will be created around meaningful local cultures and environments so that learning can be hands-on and experiential.”
For parents, this announcement is undoubtedly very welcome news. The school will enroll the children of WeWork’s customers, employees, and kids from the local community, and hopefully the project will make it easier for independent workers to tailor their hours to their kids’ schedules. Neumann has five young children herself, so no doubt she understands the difficulties of picking the kids up from school as a working parent all too well.
The Danish architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) shares WeWork’s passion for imagination and creativity and has signed on to design the WeGrow school as an interactive, nontraditional environment.
“The design starts from the premise of a school universe at the level of the child,” Ingels explained when he announced the collaboration. “A field of super-elliptic objects forms a learning landscape that’s dense and rational — yet free and fluid. Modular classrooms, tree houses, digital portals, and a vertical farm promote an inclusive and collaborative teaching environment.”
This will obviously not be school as parents remember it. Ingels adds: “Concurrently, acoustic clouds, natural materials, and neutral colors create a calm setting for the child’s focused study. Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration, and discovery.”
It sounds as if WeGrow will be teaching today’s children to learn, cooperate, and think outside the box and help them earn their stripes as tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.