Behind the Building: Bamboo in Ann Arbor

January 9, 2024

Bamboo is expanding to Ann Arbor, Michigan this year. Before we open to the public this spring, we wanted to give you a look at the history behind our new building located at 301 W. Washington in Downtown Ann Arbor. 

This historic building is located next to the Blind Pig bar, known for their musical performances over the decades. Located at 301 W Washington, the building was known by many in Ann Arbor as the former Kiwanis Thrift Store. Prior to that, it was used for a Sears Warehouse, even surviving a barn fire in 1949.

First constructed in 1925, the building recently underwent full renovations completed for the headquarters of a local technology company Clinc AI back in 2020. The renovations preserved some of the historic elements like the barn space, while modernizing garage space once used as an unloading dock into community cafe space. 

Exterior of 301 W Washington. Barnside photo by Synecdoche

Ann Arbor-based Synecdoche design and architecture firm led the renovations, and is also leading Bamboo in designing new elements to serve our coworking community. You can see the firm’s work here online showcasing the 2020 Clinc AI renovations.

"Designed initially for a local tech start-up that needed flexible space to grow, we embraced the existing building's open structure and its traditional materials while adding new spaces and modern amenities. This made the transition to a community focused co-working space like Bamboo easy,” said Adam Smith of Synecdoche. 

“The Bamboo improvements include multiple private offices of various sizes that are good fits for growing companies. The diverse Bamboo community is supported with a combination of break-out nooks and shared event spaces."

Bamboo’s new elements will include a 4,000 sq ft lower level coworking space, a space previously used for storage, and a new design for the outdoor rooftop space. Below is an idea of the elements we’ll be incorporating into the rooftop including individual and communal seating for coworking or taking meetings, new lighting, plants, and easy comfortable furniture for coworking and community gatherings. We envision a comfortable space for sitting outdoors and working, taking a small team meeting, or hosting a yoga session outside or a happy hour event with us here. 

Design inspiration for the Bamboo Garden Rooftop.

Co-working amenities throughout this building will include the indoor/outdoor rooftop coworking lounge that will double as an events space, two sliding garage door cafes that allow natural light and air inside, private move-in ready offices, 12-15 private areas for taking meetings or phone calls, a barn transformed into a training room, a mothers room/quiet room, indoor bike storage, and more. 

We’re very excited for this location to come to life. Bamboo’s focus on transforming retail spaces into modern coworking allows for accessible spaces such as 301 W Washington, which is surrounded by parking and in a vibrant walkable neighborhood, to come to life in a new way that serves the community. 

We can’t wait to share more updates with you as Bamboo’s Ann Arbor coworking space opens this spring. Membership is currently available, and interested community members can reach out for a private tour. Several private offices have already been reserved. Virtual membership is active today, while under construction. 

We look forward to contributing to the vibrant small business, startup, and remote work community in Ann Arbor this year.