VIA Agency Maine studio tour

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Studio Tour | VIA’s Creative Commons

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

By Ann Chou

After 17 years in an 1800s molasses factory warehouse, advertising and marketing agency VIA Agency can now be found at the Baxter Library Building in Portland, Maine. VIA took a risk on an old building and, through a creative collaboration of developers, contractors, architects, designers, and artists, together they transformed the space into its own world.

In the center of the three-story building, which loosely plays off its original function as a library, is the second floor common area. It’s one of several large, open-plan spaces that fill with natural light. “People can decide whether they need to be hidden away in their stacks, or out collaboratively interacting on The Steppes [a two story amphitheater] in the courtyard or beside the fridge full of beer,” says founder and CEO John Coleman.

Like an ode to its previous life as the city’s public library, seven giant installations inspired by words, ideas, language, storytelling, and books mark the different spaces. A cloud of letters is suspended from the ceiling over the commons. A pile of books appears to have ruptured a wall. A massive sculpture of a crumpled piece of paper hangs over a conference table. It’s almost as if these pieces are visualizations of the madness occurring inside the brains that produce VIA’s award-winning work.

Coleman says the space inspires his team at the agency. “New people who come to work at VIA unanimously feel moved by the building. It’s a reminder every day that you’d better create ideas that live up to the beauty of the building.” In other words, no slacking. 


Photos by Sven Fahlgren (facade), Bernard C. Meyers (interiors), James Woodman (book wall, lounge)

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